Aside from being my very last undergrad roommate, Ivey Lawrence has been my international adventure partner, Netflix marathon enthusiast, boring Media Law class co-survivor, encouraging confidant, tattoo conspirator, Facebook stalking accomplice, and incredible friend. Despite knowing one another for the majority of college, we became really close, really fast while in England together this past spring. I couldn’t imagine my adventures there without her with me! She’s a part of an incredible team in the nonprofit organization People for Care and Learning and recently had the opportunity to travel with them to Cambodia for outreach! Ivey’s changing the world, one day at a time–I’m excited to see all great things she will accomplish! Follow along with her adventures on her blog, A Plaything of Circumstance, or follow her on Twitter!
While the real, Merriam-Webster, definition of this word includes phrases like “being liable” and “able to answer,” it really just seems like a distant ethical standard you may remember your mother teaching you. It’s not a word that defines our culture or generation (or country, if we’re being honest). But, it’s a word that, if we paid closer attention to it, we could be living in a significantly better world.
What if you looked at every connection, relationship and endeavor through the eyes of responsibility?
I imagine us at work, concerned about being able to answer that we did everything right, not just quickly. I see us realizing that relationships involve a lot more than just emotions. Responsibility in a relationship doesn’t mean that you have to have it all together; it just means that you’re liable to tell the truth. It means that even when quitting is easier, maybe figuring out how to move forward is the right and responsible thing to do. I picture us not abusing substances, so that the next morning, after making an irresponsible decision, we can’t just (as Jamie Foxx says) blame it on the alcohol.
But what about responsibility for bigger things outside of your personal surroundings? I know, I know — you’re tired of hearing the phrase “social responsibility.” Even though it’s one of the buzzwords of this generation, it’s one of the things that we’ve gotten right. So, what is your responsibility to the world outside of your own? And why are you responsible?
You (Well, I’d say 99.99% of you) are fortunate enough to rarely have to worry about your basic needs being met. You know you have a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear and food to eat (and let’s be honest, probably a heck of a lot more than that). Now, we all know that we didn’t pick the life we live, so, for that same reason, shouldn’t we be responsible to help the people who didn’t pick their lives in the slums or their lives without freedom (etc.)? My personal opinion is yes, yes of course. And for those of you who may have differing opinions, we have serious beef.
Now, I’m going to assume that most people reading this wouldn’t disagree with my statement above, but I’m also going to assume that most people haven’t let the feeling of responsibility grip them enough to do something about it.
Yes, I feel so strongly about this responsibility that I work for a non-profit that exists solely to eradicate those exact problems associated with people living in poverty. Does that mean you have to work for a non-profit to show responsibility? Absolutely not (and I hope you already knew that answer).
You can, however, show responsibility, create change and help those in need without dedicating your career to it.
I think it’s actually pretty simple; we just have to consciously make decisions to do it. So, you may be asking, “How exactly do I do it?”
Here are a few suggestions of (very simple) ways to show responsibility for those who need someone to take responsibility of them:
- Support a cause. Shop on websites like Sevenly or Movement 52, they have awesome clothes, but it’s actually going to support very worthy causes (and they give you the exact details of where your money is going).
- Shop responsibly. When you’re at Target, purchase from the Feed USA clothing line, instead of Mossimo…because the money you spend on that line of clothing is actually going towards feeding your fellow Americans that live without knowing when they’ll eat their next meal.
- Sponsor a child. Don’t think it actually makes a difference in their lives? I beg to differ. Not only have I seen the children at People for Care & Learning‘s (the non-profit I work for) orphanages lives changed by sponsorship, but I know that it actually improves children’s lives all over the world. If you like the facts, like I do, here’s a great article on how Sponsoring a Child Can Change the World.
- Volunteer. I guarantee that there is poverty, not only across the world, but in your “backyard.” I, myself, live in a city where 30 % of the people living here live under the poverty line. You might not have money, but I know can find a way to make some time. There are organizations everywhere that are in need of help, so that the people you share a city with can live another day.
Take a risk by getting involved, choose the opposite of easy and comfortable, spend your extra money on something other than yourself and, most importantly, let responsibility drive you to find the niche where you can inspire hope in someone else’s life.