The Statue of Liberty seemed so small from Battery Park in Manhattan. We visited that statue as part of a cub scout event, but for me the statue’s relevance didn’t truly register until high school when greater awareness dawned of how many left poverty and oppressive regimes for the promise (if not always the reality) of Liberty.
But this isn’t a post about Liberty. It’s about Responsibility.
Victor Frankyl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning “that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast should be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast… Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.”
A Statue of Responsibility seemed a vague fantasy some people wanted to install on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay Area where I lived in the 1990’s. Alcatraz actually was in some sense already our Monument to Responsibility. A prison. But I searched for it recently and was shocked how far we’ve come to having an actual Statue of Responsibility somewhere in California or Seattle. It seems a worthy dream for many reasons. The proposed design according to Victor Frankly mentee Alex Pattakos shows two hands clasped, the hand at the base representing personal responsibility, and the one from the sky “representing us reaching out to whatever ‘to’ is, humanity, some higher power, the world, nation to nation, people to people.”
Many have emphasized the importance of responsibility as a core element of accomplishing anything worth while. It helps to look at the actual word to understand it. Responsibility is the Ability to Respond. A very powerful essay by Yasuhiko Genku Kimura, “Toward a Culture of Responsibility“, notes “Responsibility is the individual’s ability to respond to any situation in life as the cause, not as the victim, of the situation.”
One of my deepest joys at present is my involvement in the Open Space Technology community, about which I have frequently written. But in relation to Responsibility, what I love about Open Space is what Peggy Holman identified as how it supports each participant in stepping forward to “take responsibility for what we love as an act of service.”
So now for the main reason I’m writing this post. Since 2009 I’ve been studying with Dr. Christoper Avery who teaches something called “The Responsibility Process”. It has been invaluable in my personal evolution not just for it’s deep and detailed understanding of the psychological process required to move into a state of true responsibility, but also in the individual and community support it provides for practicing responsibility for a greater experience of freedom, power, and choice. By choosing awareness around my intentions and confronting what is actually going on both within and without, I can, as Kimura-san states, respond as the cause, not the victim. I won’t benefit financially if you join this community, but it has amazing leaders who are choosing responsibility rather than victimhood to create a better world for themselves and those around them. Let my writing here be my hand reaching out to you to support you, in some way, in advancing on your path towards claiming the Ability to Respond.
Other than Dr. Avery, some of the other hands that reached out and helped me up the path of responsibility since my early 20’s are: Anthony Robbins, Dr. Maxine Kaye, Gay & Katie Hendrix, Howard LaGarde’s Alpha Leadership Training, Jim & Michele McCarthy’s Core Protocols, the Man Kind Project, the Coaches Training Institute, and Byron Katie.
What hands have helped you up? How will you keep reaching?