Responsibility Can Only Be Borne

I remember the rise of Vaclav Havel—poet, playwright, anti-communist dissident, president of Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic. His observation was true then and still true today.

An enormous conflict between words and deeds is prevalent today: everyone talks about freedom, democracy, justice, human rights, about peace and saving the world from nuclear apocalypse; and at the same time, everyone, more or less, consciously or unconsciously, serves those values and ideals only to the extent necessary to serve himself and his “worldly” interests, personal interests, group interests, power interests, property interests, and state or great-power interests.…

Vaclav Havel

Many people claim to follow Jesus in most places of the world today. Each of us must reflect on what ideals we are really serving—with our money, feet, beliefs, soul.

And what to do?

So the power structures apparently have no other choice than to sink deeper into this vicious maelstrom, and contemporary people apparently have no other choice than to wait around until the final inhibition drops away. But who should begin? Who should break this vicious circle? Responsibility cannot be preached but only borne, and the only possible place to begin is with oneself.

Vaclav Havel

Just as “free speech” does not imply irresponsible speech, merely saying you are a Christian does not cut it. Jesus himself said so, “Many people will call Lord, Lord, but I will not know them.

Just like parents preach to their youth responsibility yet live irresponsible lives as a role model, so we cannot either preach or learn from preaching. We must seize responsibility and act as true disciples.

And, yes, I’m aware of the irony that I’m writing these words—a form of preaching. But I’d rather hope that I’m encouraging self-reflection and then right action.

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