Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept

By Griffin Jones

I’ve come to suspect that the most fulfilled people are those who acknowledge that a problem is not their responsibility, and then claim responsibility for it.

You didn’t sabotage the public education system. You didn’t pollute the water. You didn’t move business out of town. You didn’t discriminate against anyone. People may try to sentence you with those that did, but usually they’re projecting on to you, so they don’t feel implicated themselves.

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Forget that. You didn’t do anything. You are not responsible.

Yet…the schools are  failing, the water is contaminated, business has left, and some groups are left out.

Buffalo is unmistakably a better place today than it was twenty years ago, because some people decided to claim responsibility for that which they were not accountable.

Is it only important to solve major problems if the resources and support are available? Or is it more important when they’re not? It takes sacrifice, pain, and energy to overcome them. Resources ease the burden but tenacity is prerequisite.

Who’s responsibility is it? Corporations? Government? These are words to describe “other people”. And we know they only take responsibility after we do. How important are any of the solutions to you?

Start with the measure of your own contentment. My friend Tony Diina,  a business owner and community volunteer, told me, “Often times, the service benefits the donor more than the recipient,”

That’s okay. In fact, that’s precisely how to take ownership of a problem of which you’re not at fault. It reconciles the catch-22 of not being involved because there’s no hope, and no support because not enough people care.

Doesn’t that have to be the bedrock for commitment? Especially, because we never actually win. The question, “what’s next?” follows every gain like a shadow. Each time, someone has to decide, “do I want to accept responsibility for that?”

As Jay Schwinger of SILO City Rocks says, “I do it for my own sanity,”

Ironically, self-motivation is the fallback for self-sacrifice. it’s only when we take responsibility for something, that we truly aren’t responsible for it.


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