Responsibility

Responsibility. A single word drenched in meaning, and evocative of all that a generation stood for, and all that one seeks to shirk. People are judged, rightly, on their actions, both in the judicial system, and in the public’s eye. But should people be judged on what they do not do? Perhaps most notably, certainly one of the most visible situations of the last few decades, was in the death of Princess Dianna, when numerous paparazzi stood in the aftermath and collected pictures rather than attempt to help. That she was later found to have had little to no chance of surviving the crash (her seatbelt wasn’t engaged) was generally lost and the paparazzi villainized.

Throughout history events have unfurled where a population or person stood by in place and watched or allowed some event happen later considered evil by many. The Holocaust left many in horror, not just at the atrocity itself, but that it happened. In the americas, and much of the rest of the world, human slavery has been or once was allowed and even promoted. Witch hunts and other similar inquisitions swept through europe with nary a word spoken against them.

Fear, apathy and malice are but a few of the reasons behind such sweeping “evils.” Apathy is the most insidious, perhaps, and allows the host to feel vindicated for not participating, but to benefit from continuing in a kind of status quo, not risking harm to themselves. But inaction allows for more action, and the fallacy of apathy is that by removing even their voice, that freedom Americans especially claim to hold so dear, they are in fact complying with the scheme of those moving forward with their plans.

A lie of omission is a more deliberate example of this problem, and in American courts punishable. Both sides of a trial have the opportunity to omit information to the other side, evidence that legally must be shared. If it is not, then the evidence frequently is withdrawn from consideration. This precedent, I believe, is just. Inaction is a form of action. Reasonable effort should be given when called for. In today’s world of politics especially, those who do not vote, should have no voice to raise when things don’t go their way. By refusing to vote, they have said they do not care to influence the world around them and by extension are fine with how things turn out, however they do.

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