Trading Guilt for Responsibility

Whenever I am in a neighborhood or small town and see empty storefronts, watch people floating aimlessly on the sidewalks during school or working hours, pass by housing projects, or read about crime, poverty, or a poor environment in the places where our children and our brothers and sisters live, I am distressed and anguished. It has become impossible for me to ignore the fact that the world we are creating does not come close to fulfilling its promise.

Along with this distress comes the knowledge that each of us, myself included, is participating in creating this world. If it is true that we are creating this world, then each of us has the power to heal its woundedness. This is not about guilt, it is about accountability. Citizens, in their capacity to come together and choose to be accountable, are our best shot at making a difference… [Eventually], the essential question upon which accountability hinges needs to be asked:

What have I done to contribute to the very thing I complain about or want to change?

This question, higher risk than most others, requires a great deal of trust. It can be asked only after people are connected to each other. This may be the most transforming question of all..[1]

This is the higher risk question and it requires a great deal of trust. Is there someone you know and trust enough in order to sit together with this question? If you do have a group that has worked together through other questions of ownership and possibility, you may want to use part of your next gathering to consider this question as well. As we’ll see in upcoming Food For Thought, only when we “see our part in causing the past and the present,” can we “fully participate usefully in being a coauthor of the future”.



[1]Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging (intro, and pp. 129-130). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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