Saturday, June 16, 2012

Eric Hoffer on responsibility

The following quotations come from Eric Hoffer's The Passionate State of Mind.  It is said to be a sign of maturity and inner strength to accept responsibility for our own actions.  It is this that distinguishes us from the children and the immature.

"There is a powerful caving in most of us to see ourselves as instruments in the hands of others and thus free ourselves from the responsibility of acts which are prompted by our own questionable inclinations and impulses.  Both the strong and the weak grasp at this alibi.  The latter hide their malevolence under the virtue of obedience: they acted dishonorably because they had to obey orders.  The strong, too, claim absolution by proclaiming themselves the chosen instruments of a higher power--God, history, fate, nation or humanity."

At one time, ministers and preachers would claim the support of the deity for their actions, that God told them what to say and do, but today we see politicians and legislators now insisting that the deity has told them what is right and what they must do.  They imply, of course, that a vote for them is a vote for God; voting for their opponents is voting against God.  It's God's responsibility, not theirs.

Who was the comedian whose tagline became instantly famous and quoted and revised innumerable times?
--The Devil made me do it.   There's some truth in humor, I think.

"The awareness that the misfortunes which befall us are some sort of retribution for past transgressions often evokes in us a sense of relief.  We are relieved of immediate responsibility for whatever it is that is happening to us.  For if our difficulties can be ascribed to something that has happened in the past, they cannot serve as evidence of our present inadequacy and cannot blemish our self-confidence and self-esteem."

Doesn't it say somewhere in the Bible that the sins of  the fathers shall fall even onto the third generation?  And Buddhists speak of Karma which means that actions in our past lives can have an effect on us in the present incarnation.  

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