Responsibility Is The Art Of Changing Consequences At Will
Article ID: 9785
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: June 12th. 2005
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Responsibility is the art of changing consequences at will.
What is required to do this?
To be responsible, I must see a situation clearly. I must decide what action, if any, is appropriate. I must take that action, or remain in that stillness. I must then accept the consequences of what I have or have not done.
Clarity is the seed of responsibility. Being present, being awake, being aware, sensing the situation and knowing it as fully as possible is where it all starts. Like the seed, I sit still and open. I hold many possibilities within. I am centered, grounded, aware. And then…has the sun’s fire touched the earth? Is it warm? Is there water? Is it time to move? Is there need? Is there injustice? Is there a way I can help while meeting the other, daily needs around me? Do I know enough to act? What is the best way to act, the way that causes most good and least harm?
The stillness is essential to right action. The clear perception of need, and of the proper way to act, is as important as the action itself. Without it, well, I may not believe in hell, but I have seen the crisscrossed ill-marked roads paved with good intentions, hiding the landmines beneath. Stillness, clarity, presence I invite with daily meditation, with daily practice, with reminders to be awake and aware and alive, to become aware of the things I take for granted, and to turn my attention to them.
Decision is the root of responsibility. In the moment the decision is made, the root is cast down and action begins. Decision is the moment intent is formed. In my tradition, all magic starts with intent. Make the intent clear and strong, push the root into the warm earth with all the strength of will, and let the magic work.
Action is the stem and leaf, action is responsibility as it is seen in the world. Action is vision and decision made manifest. Strong action may be beautiful, but what if it springs from the wrong seed? If the vision is clouded, the result is not what we intend; the apple tree is a poison sumac. If the decision and intent are weak, the roots are weak, and the action cannot thrive or bear fruit. The action, the stem and leaf, are what we first perceive of responsibility, they are what we long for, what we rush toward, but they need stillness, vision, decision to support them.
Nor does responsibility end with action. Accepting consequences – well, that is the flower, or the fruit, or the poison of it.
Responsibility is the magic of self-creation. When I act responsibly, I have engaged my whole self: presence, vision, intent, action. No part of me impedes the flow. I act as a clear channel, with integrity. I am accountable to myself, and to the world I share in.
Well, now, wasn’t that a lovely theoretical discussion, with a pretty extended metaphor. Do you know any more than when you started?
Once upon a time, not so very long ago or far away, I had read many descriptions of responsibility, heard many people describe what it meant to them, and thought I knew what I was about. As a hospice worker, as a member of a healing profession, as a human person in an imperfect world, as a local activist, I had had plenty of chances to explore what responsibility and responsible action looked and felt like to me, as well as how failure to act or to act correctly would harm me. Then there came a little course at Cherry Hill Seminary, a little course in Boundaries and Ethics, a little course that challenged me to write my own statement of ethics, my own promise to and contract with the worlds.
How can we say simply to each other what we believe is right? How can we promise how we’ll act? My answer is going to follow, but you might want to pause here a moment to start to write your own. This particular statement relates specifically to my work as a priestess and pastoral counselor, but it echoes beyond that. The exercise brought me back to the seed, gave me clarity, sharpened my vision, woke me up and held the mirror to my heart. When my vision clouds, and I’m not sure what, if anything, to do, I come back here to remember who I am. Responsibility starts in the seed of self-knowledge. Written in stillness, turned to in trouble, here is Honeycomb the Witch and Priestess:
What does responsibility look like? It looks like a Witch, seeing herself and the world around her as they are; seeing herself and the world around her as they should be; becoming the world-tree that grows between them.
Statement of Intent:
When we enter into any relationship, and particularly when we enter into a relationship as teacher and student, or as counselor and seeker, it’s wise to know the guidelines and boundaries of the relationship. In this way, we can hope to have clear expectations of each other. None of us exists in a vacuum; each of us holds certain values and truths. It’s helpful to know what those are, so that we know where we stand with each other. This document will help you understand who I am, and how I will act in relationship to you. It is my commitment to you, and to me, to act as best I can in service to my community.
General Personal Code of Ethics:
My personal goal is to see each situation as clearly as I can, to decide what action, if any, is most appropriate, to take that action, and to accept responsibility for the consequences. My guiding principles are:
Some problems will arise that represent conflict between general ethical principles, and sometimes it’s necessary to weigh one principle against another. Deciding how to weigh these principles is a challenging process. I respect the uniqueness of each case, of each decision, and approach each decision with appreciation of its special requirements. Where it is possible and appropriate, I seek guidance from other clergy members and other professionals, while respecting the confidentiality of those who have sought my help.
- To be of service to my community
- To respect the dignity and worth of every person, recognizing the spark of the divine within each of us
- To recognize the importance of our relationships with each other
- To maintain my own integrity
- To act as well as possible within my own level of competence
- To recognize when I must ask for the help of others
- To act responsibly toward myself; to care for myself so I can be of service to others
To be of service to my community:
I intend to create a safe place for all of us to express our feelings and explore whatever issues we need to explore.
I intend to do no harm, and to act in the best interests of those who ask for my help.
To respect the dignity and worth of every person, recognizing the spark of the divine within each of us:
I believe we each carry the Sacred within us, and that the Sacred connects us all.
I believe we are all of equal worth.
I respect the sacredness of each person’s beliefs, and do not hold mine to be intrinsically better than another’s. I do not impose my beliefs or values on anyone. I do, however, respect the rules and laws of our larger community, and seek to act within them.
I approach others with empathy and with the desire to understand their situations, not to judge them.
I seek to remember my own humanity and divinity, and the divinity and humanity of others.
To recognize the importance of our relationships with each other:
Clarity is crucial. We will discuss our expectations of each other, and agree how we will act toward each other.
Confidentiality is important in our relationship. What you say to me remains between us, unless you expressly give permission for it to be shared; unless I am required by law to share it; or unless I deem it absolutely necessary to break confidence to prevent serious harm being done to another person.
We may have more than one sort of relationship with each other. We may be friends, or coveners, or fellow students in another area of our lives. I am aware that multiple relationships can be confusing and difficult to manage, and have the potential to cause serious harm. If you feel that there is any conflict, I want you to tell me. If I feel there is a conflict, I will tell you. In either case, we will discuss how best to handle the conflict, and I will assist you in finding other help if necessary. I do not under any circumstances enter into relationships which combine counseling or teaching with romantic or sexual partnership.
To maintain my own integrity:
I am honest and open in my dealings with others. If I have information you need to know, I will tell you.
I only make promises I can keep.
I actively question and test my beliefs and opinions.
I will never stop questioning and learning.
To act as well as possible within my own level of competence:
I seek, and will continue to seek, the best possible training for the work that I do.
To recognize when I must ask for the help of others:
I am not a licensed professional counselor. I am here to help with problems that are short-term, or that address specific situations or questions. If you need long term counseling, I will make every effort to help you find suitable professional help, and I will be available to support you through that process if you and your professional counselor agree that would be appropriate.
If anything should arise in the course of our discussions that makes it inadvisable for me to continue working with you, I will tell you, and will assist you in finding other help.
To act responsibly toward myself; to care for myself so I can be of service to others:
I respect my own needs, physical, emotional, and spiritual, and care for myself so that I can continue to help others. I know that if I do not care for myself, I cannot help anyone else.
Thank you for reading this statement. I hope we will work together, in
trust and compassion.
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Author's Profile: To learn more about Honeycomb - Click HERE
Bio: Honeycomb, after thirty years of solitary eclectic practice, has for five years been a Witch and Priestess in the Delaware Valley Reclaiming Community and is now also a student of Feri. To know her better, visit www.metbymoonlight.com or her Witchvox profile.
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