Who is Responsible?

Are we individually responsible for what we do? When are we responsible for what happens to us? If we take credit for our successes, how can we avoid the blame for our failures?

I was at a Preventive Medicine conference in February of 2011 and the speaker was discussing unhealthy lifestyle choices.  Her theme was that people really weren’t responsible for smoking cigarettes, being overweight or sedentary, or any other unhealthy choice.  Instead, they were victims of their genetics and their environment.

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Preunderstandings and Presuppositions

Our fundamental biology, assumptions and experiences, passed down through our families and environments, shape us more than we know. By identifying these influences, we can shape them.

In the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical the Sound of Music, 17 year old Rolf sings to his beloved 16 year old Liesl about her innocence as she makes the transition into adulthood. Rolf’s song, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, includes the line “your life, little girl, is an empty page, that men will want to write on.”

Though a charming sentiment, it is not really true. None of our lives are an empty page, ready to learn and experience anything that comes our way with complete accuracy and objectivity. We are each preconditioned by a host of factors to see and respond to life in a particular way:

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