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Responsibility

  • We can win the struggle to avoid responsibility for our personal lives, but if we do, what we lose is our lives.

  • Once you have discovered what is happening, you can't pretend not to know, you can't abdicate responsibility. Knowledge always brings responsibility.

    • P.D. James,
    • in Molly Ivins, Nothin' But Good Times Ahead ()
  • Great bodies of people are never responsible for what they do.

  • You cannot blame everything on the enemy.

    • Ursula K. Le Guin,
    • "The New Atlantis" (1975), in R.V. Cassill, ed., The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction ()
  • I notice that when people have no sense of responsibility, you call them either criminals or geniuses.

  • Responsiblity is the great developer of men.

    • Mary Parker Follett,
    • in Henry C. Metcalf and L. Urwick, eds., Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett ()
  • ... only lies and evil come from letting people off.

  • ... consider the vice president, George Bush, a man so bedeviled by bladder problems that he managed, for the last eight years, to be in the men's room whenever an important illegal decision was made.

    • Barbara Ehrenreich,
    • "The Unbearable Being of Whiteness," The Worst Years of Our Lives ()
  • Curiously enough, it is often the people who refuse to assume any responsibility who are apt to be the sharpest critics of those who do.

  • By assigning his political rights to the state the individual also delegates his social responsibilities to it: he asks the state to relieve him of the burden of caring for the poor precisely as he asks for protection against criminals. The difference between pauper and criminal disappears — both stand outside society.

  • ... where everybody is guilty, nobody is.

  • Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.

  • ... I am come amongst you, as you see at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all — to lay down for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • speech to the troops at Tilbury (1588), in Frederick Chamberlin, The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth ()
  • To be a king and wear a crown is more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasure to them that bear it ...

    • Elizabeth I,
    • "The Golden Speech" (1601), in Frederick Chamberlin, The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth ()
  • One part of the science of living is to learn just what our own responsibility is, and to let other people's alone.

  • ... I know well that neither the devil nor anyone else can ever kill me except with my own sword ...

    • Catherine of Siena,
    • 1375, in Suzanne Noffke, trans., The Letters of St. Catherine of Siena ()
  • She hasn't called her soul her own for so long that I guess the good Lord won't hold her responsible for it.

  • I was thinking of my patients, and how the worst moment for them was when they discovered they were masters of their own fate. It was not a matter of bad or good luck. When they could no longer blame fate, they were in despair.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1935, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • Proscription, martial law, the billeting of the rude troops, the tax collector, the unjust judge, anything at all, is sweeter than responsibility.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "Ghostly Father, I Confess," in Mary Louise Aswell, ed., It's a Woman's World ()
  • ... I had assumed that the Earth, the spirit of the Earth, noticed exceptions — those who wantonly damage it and those who do not. But the Earth is wise. It has given itself into the keeping of all, and all are therefore accountable.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "Everything Is a Human Being," Living by the Word ()
  • ... everybody's business is nobody's business.

  • Now much of the country is made up of people with the acquisition habits of a 7-year-old, desire untethered from need, or the ability to pay.

  • Once you know something is wrong, you're responsible, whether you see it, or hear about it, and most particularly when you're a part of it.

  • I try to live what I consider a 'poetic existence.' That means I take responsibility for the air I breathe and the space I take up. I try to be immediate, to be totally present for all my work.

    • Maya Angelou,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • Everybody's suffering is mine but not everybody's murdering ... I do not distinguish for one moment whether my child is in danger or a child in central Asia. But I will not accept responsibility for what other people do because I happen to belong to that nation or that race or that religion. I do not believe in guilt by association.

    • Margaret Mead,
    • in Margaret Mead and James Baldwin, A Rap on Race ()
  • I devoutly believe that there is no difficulty between two people for which both are not responsible.

    • Margaret Mead,
    • 1976, in Margaret M. Caffrey and Patricia A. Francis, eds., To Cherish the Life of the World: Selected Letters of Margaret Mead ()
  • ... some shrugged their shoulders as if to shake off whatever chips of responsibility might have lodged there.

  • ... every individual can make a difference ... if we continue to leave decision making to the so-called decision makers, things will never change.

  • Everybody's business is nobody's business ...

  • A sensible public conversation about personal responsibility would have to begin by acknowledging the limits of human rationality. ... Any opponent of social security or universal health coverage who thinks it is sensible to leave it up to a 21-year-old to decide whether to insure against potential disasters does not known any 21-year-olds.

  • Over the course of my career as both an actress and an author, I have met many wanna-bes. I distinguish the wannas from the gonnas because the WBs all think someone else is to blame for their problems. ... By contrast, GBs say: 'What? There's no door here? I'll build one.'

  • Who, I ask you, can take, dare take on himself the rights, the duties, the responsibilities of another human soul?

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • "The Solitude of Self," farewell speech to the National American Woman Suffrage Association ()
  • Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility. Nothing adds such dignity to character as the recognition of one's self-sovereignty ...

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • "The Solitude of Self," farewell speech to the National American Woman Suffrage Association ()
  • I think that's the moment when we all grow up, when we stop blaming our parents for the messes we've made out of our lives and start owning the consequences of our actions.

  • Each person born into this world has a right to everything he needs. His right, however, is bound up with that of every other creature and gives him no license to grab everything he can without allowing a share for others.

    • Dorothy Richards,
    • in Dorothy Richards with Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Beaversprite ()
  • I've borne full many a sorrow, I've suffered many a loss — / But now, with a strange, new anguish, I carry this last dread cross; / For of this be sure, my dearest, whatever thy life befall, / The cross that our own hands fashion is the heaviest cross of all. / ... / The crosses we make for ourselves, alas! are the heaviest ones of all.

    • Katherine Eleanor Conway,
    • "The Heaviest Cross of All," in Edmund Clarence Stedman, An American Anthology 1787-1900 ()
  • There comes a time when we aren't allowed not to know.

  • No matter how lofty you are in your department, the responsiblity for what your lowliest assistant is doing is yours.

    • Bessie Rowland James,
    • in Adlai E. Stevenson, Bessie Rowland James, Mary Waterstreet, Adlai's Almanac ()
  • What's everybody's business is nobody's business ...

  • The buck stops here. I don't share blame, I don't share credit, and I don't share desserts.

    • Beverly Sills,
    • in Kathleen Kimball, Robin Petersen, Kathleen Johnson, eds., The Music Lover's Quotation Book: A Lyrical Companion ()
  • An irresponsible person is a person who makes vague promises, then breaks his word, blames it on circumstances and expects other people to forgive it.

    • Ayn Rand,
    • 1949, in Michael S. Berliner, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand ()
  • The first rule in opera is the first rule of life ... see to everything yourself.

  • Responsibility has more salvation in it than religion can bestow.

  • Responsibilities develop us and enable us to grow in stature. If we are deprived of them our personality dwindles.

  • If it is to be, it is up to me.

  • Power's twin is responsibility ...

  • Only when we stop holding others accountable for all of our troubles can we truly be free.

  • No matter how carefully you plan it, there are times when you suddenly find yourself a committee of one, in charge of lifting the entire world with a lever.

  • ... there are no knights on white horses, no magical grandmothers in the sky watching, waiting to rescue us. Teachers may come our way, but they will not rescue. They will teach. People who care will come, but they will not rescue. They will care. Help will come, but help is not rescuing. We are our own rescuers. Our relationships will improve dramatically when we stop rescuing others and stop expecting them to rescue us.

  • There is a fifth child who lives at our house called 'Nobody.' ... 'Nobody' breaks windows, eats the frosting off cakes before company comes, leaves gallon boxes of ice cream on the kitchen counter before we leave the house for three hours, and delights in parking bicycles behind the car. 'Nobody' puts crayons in the clothes dryer and is not even tax-deductible!

  • Part of having a strong sense of self is to be accountable for one's actions. No matter how much we explore motives or lack of motives, we are what we do.

  • What is everybody's business is nobody's business.

  • As one goes through life one learns that if you don't paddle your own canoe, you don't move.

  • ... when the freedom they wished most for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.

    • Edith Hamilton,
    • "The Lessons of the Past," in Richard Thruelsen and John Kobler, eds., Adventures of the Mind, 1st series ()
  • Today everyone can see the full extent of the past and present atrocities on this earth. No one can any longer claim she or he didn't know anything — which was still occasionally plausible during and after the annihilation excesses of the Second World War.

  • Accountability is a key factor in management because it is the cornerstone of empowerment and personal growth. If no one is accountable for a project, no one gets to grow through the experience of it. Accountability has nothing to do with blame. It has everything to do with individual and corporate growth. Accomplished tasks breed self-confidence. Self-confidence breeds success. And success breeds more success. ... Holding people accountable allows them the opportunity to sign their name on a portrait of success, no matter how small that portrait might be. It gives them their next growth challenge in a defined and measurable form. To treat them as equals is to hold them accountable. When groups show via corporate culture — which is decided at the top — that accountability is to be worn like a medal, rather than an albatross, people will be more eager to wear it around their necks.

  • My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.

  • Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody's business to interfere when they see it ...

  • You can never be free from limitation until you are willing to recognize that you and you alone are responsible for what you are. After you have passed infancy you are not a victim of anything but your own thinking.

  • We create our own worlds. We destroy our own worlds. It is that simple.