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The Psychology of Responsibility

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posted on Nov, 10 2007 @ 01:18 AM
I'm going to begin this essay with a statement so simple, it's almost laughable.

People want to feel good.

Yes, of course everybody knows this is true, but what is amazing is how far people will go to feel better, including remaining willfully ignorant, deceiving themselves, or laboring endlessly to further goals based on false realities.

I would like to make a simple observation: knowing the truth makes you responsible for it. People understand this on an instinctive level, though not many admit this consciously. Most people do not want the responsibility that comes with knowing. It is often easier for some people to just do what they are told, rather than make an informed decision to do what is right, because this process is more difficult and carries greater risk. First, you must get informed. This requires getting the information that isn't handed to you. It requires research. It requires sifting through the mud for the gems of truth. The second step requires a thought process. This is a problem, because most people are not in the habit of thinking, they are in the habit of reacting. This is a process that excludes from the mind the talents of analysis and detail, discarding them in favor of emotion. For those who have lived their entire lives reacting, thinking comes as naturally as communicating in Greek.

Committing to following orders is easy. It relinquishes responsibility and relieves the follower of the burden of research and thought. If plans fail, the person who follows authority is absolved of all crimes; it is not even within the realm of possibility to blame themselves. It comes as a convenience to direct guilt at authority for coming up with bad plans, while the pawn continues on merrily with their ways, in the land of the guilt-free and the home of the enslaved.

But there is a danger in living beneath authority. The danger comes when the masses do not see the deception before their eyes. They can easily find themselves being manipulated and controlled in a multitude of ways, and with purposes abhorrent to their interests. Without discussion of the merit that authority wields over them, and critical thinking that follows, human kind can be led like sheep to the slaughter.

This is one function that religions serve the masses. It instructs adherents to follow the leader and accept rules without questioning. Governments act in much the same way. It is remarkable- the similarity between politics and religion. Whenever facts are revealed in contradiction to an established belief system, the person often reacts emotionally, almost violently. It is as though they have been assaulted by truth. They frequently fall back on psychological defense mechanisms, circular arguments, character assassinations, and most frighteningly... close their eyes, cover their ears, and say “I can't hear you la la la...” See no evil hear no evil speak no evil, and evil does not exist?

So how does one get information across to someone with a closed mind? It seems as though the problem isn't one of logic, or facts, or any other armaments which should work in favor of the truth. It is one of responsibility, and it is there that lies America's fundamental problem: so many Americans have been brought from the ground up to believe that the government is in a role of protecting society like a parent would, while the population plays the role of the “children”. This emotional idea has been so well-sold to the public, mostly unawares, that it is as if half of the nation is asleep in its crib while the house is burning down.

So that leaves us with the real question. Not “how do I convince people with the facts” but rather “how do I instill responsibility in place of submission to authority?”

"They must find it difficult, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as the authority" - G. Massey

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