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Recently, I have been involved in several conversations surrounding the area of "responsibility" and "taking responsibility". I have gone back and forth on the situations in my mind, because at times I have found myself arguing both sides of the various arguments, with neither side apparently winning.

I may go into more details about other situations later on, but in this public post, let's just talk about the issue of drinking and driving.

If a friend is drinking, and I think they shouldn't be driving, I will do something about it. I do this for several reasons. I do this because of friendship, in not wanting him/her to make a bad mistake, and in not wanting anything bad to happen to them; and I do this because I don't want them on the road, potentially hurting me and my family (and other random potential victims). I feel a certain amount of personal responsibility to do what I can do to stop them from driving impaired.

Having said that, I WILL NOT accept the responsibility that someone else may try to put on me, for someone else's shitty choice. If the family member of drunk friend described in the paragraph above, flipped out on me for not having stopped him from getting behind the wheel, I would not be prepared to accept any of the responsibility for whatever the result may have been.

It is my firm belief that people should be held responsible for their own actions, and in the case of someone trying to drive while impaired, the responsibility for that should be placed squarely in the lap of the idiot driver. It should not be the responsibility of the person who was talking to him in the bar.

To try to clearly delineate a very fine line - I would feel some sense of personal responsibility to stop someone from driving while impaired, but I will not accept the responsibility of someone else trying to tell me that I should have stopped them.

I am trying to further explore my feelings on this, because I'm still convinced that the paragraph above sounds contradictory, so I would welcome any comments/questions/suggestions as to how to better make my point without sounding contradictory. Assuming, of course, that I've managed to adequately explain my point.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
tinkydee
Mar. 15th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
someone else cannot dictate where YOUR responsibility lies....only you can decide what you feel you are responsible for or not and are comfortable accepting responsibility for. we are never responsible for the actions of others, only ourselves, and we act accordingly. only you can decide what you can live with and what you cannot.
sharya
Mar. 15th, 2010 06:05 am (UTC)
someone else cannot dictate where YOUR responsibility lies

I'm going to assume you mean this in general terms.

I'm not sure how that statement is possible though, since that's exactly what the courts do - they determine level of responsibility. The laws do dictate where our level of responsibility lies.

I would feel a sense of responsibility to try to stop them. If I was unable to stop them or if I, for some reason, chose not to stop them, I do not feel that I should be held responsible for what happened. That is the part I am struggling with.

Normally if I feel responsible for something, I am willing to accept that responsibility. But yet here is a situation where I feel some sort of responsibility to do something, but yet I am not willing to accept someone else's suggestion that I am responsible. And not because I am stubborn either (which I am :P). I genuinely feel they are different, but I can't quite express how they are different in a way that satisfies my sense of... explanation, I guess.

Know what I mean?
pixienymph
Mar. 15th, 2010 05:02 am (UTC)
Here's my two cents on the issue in general, not necessarily what you did/do/don't do, etc.:

I actually got cops involved once, when a co-worker of Skaloop's was drunk and insisted on driving home. Three of them - Loop, this guy an one other - had gone out drinking and bowling after a company party and I went to meet them after an event I was at. Anyway, K was very drunk. Like, weaving in the street, barely able to speak properly drunk. And he insisted that he was going to drive home. I was not having any of it, so I enlisted the help of some police. I hoped they would talk him into taking the bus or a taxi. He began to fight them, and they ended up arrested him. It was highly distressing and both myself and Loop were very upset that it came to that, but to me it really proved how drunk he was and that he was in no state to drive.

Now, the reason I went to that length may be different from other folks. See, a friend of mine from high school was murdered by a drunk driver. I use the word murder, because this woman had been to court-ordered rehab several times, and her driver's license was on something like her 3rd suspension when she killed Dave (she was both driving drunk and with a suspended license). His family did everything they could to appeal for a longer sentence, but she got a slap on the wrist: 2 years probation. 2 years for killing a sweet and caring man who had his whole life ahead of him.

Personally, there is nothing I won't do to prevent people from drinking and driving. Even if said friend/whoever never speaks to me again, I would rather see them sleeping it off in the drunk tank.
sharya
Mar. 15th, 2010 06:10 am (UTC)
Yup - I've had both friends and family killed by drunk drivers, so I'm with you there.

But here is the question. So in your situation, K didn't end up getting behind the wheel, because he was stupid and fought the cops. Let's say he got behind the wheel before the cops could stop him, and while the cops were pursuing him, there was an accident. Do you feel responsible, and are you willing to speak up and say that you are in some way responsible? (note those two things are different)

Now consider the same situation, but let's say, for some reason, you chose not to involve the cops, and he got behind the wheel and there was an accident. Do you feel responsible, and are you willing to speak up and say that you are in some way responsible?
pixienymph
Mar. 15th, 2010 06:17 am (UTC)
If he'd driven, YES. I'd feel very responsible. I would beat myself up for the rest of my life over it.

The other situation wouldn't have arisen, because he would have had to take the train back to his car (it was at the office). However, I wouldn't feel responsible for that, because I would know I had done all I could by involving the police. It would be in their hands, and they're trained for that sort of thing, so I would trust them to get it right.

Also, if his car had been nearby, there is no way in hell I would have let him even get the door open. I would have taken his keys, forcibly, if necessary, or still gone for the cops' help while Loop distracted him.
sharya
Mar. 15th, 2010 06:22 am (UTC)
Ok, so you feel responsible. Now let's say the situation went to court, and the blame was being laid at your feet for being at least somewhat responsible for him getting behind the wheel.

Do you accept that responsibility and whatever punishment may come your way, or do you maintain that it was his own stupid choice to get behind the wheel, and that he is the one that should be going to jail, not you.
pixienymph
Mar. 15th, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
If I am to go to jail for that stupid decision, so should the bartender, waiters/waitresses, bouncers, etc., at the bar or restaurant. Or, if it was a private event, the home owner, sales clerk at the liquor store, etc...

I don't think, legally, I should be responsible. I tried to stop him, and short of knocking him out (which would be assault) there was little else I could do. He drank. He was going to drive. That's on him. I tried to stop him, but was unsuccessful. All that makes me is a failure and a bad friend.
egbert
Mar. 15th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
I think if you try to talk someone out of driving drunk, you simply living up to the responsibilities to your own morals. Not anyone else's. I suppose if your morals require you to take aggressive action 'at all costs' to stop them, then perhaps you have failed yourself should they proceed to drive. I refuse to take that position, so if they chose to drive, I would be upset, but I wouldn't feel responsible. I feel ultimately it's up to the individual to make their own choices. But then again, I would have to consider things a bit more depending on the degree of drunkenness (as discussed in other comments). It's not a clear cut answer, I know.

Now if you offer to drive them home yourself, then you're assuming responsibility for them. Totally different game at that point.
sharya
Mar. 15th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
you simply living up to the responsibilities to your own morals

Thank you! This is the idea that I couldn't seem to articulate - the difference between responsibility to your own morals and values, and general responsibility.

Hmm... general responsibility... general responsibility to... to the situation? What is the noun here, that I can't seem to articulate?
(Deleted comment)
sharya
Mar. 16th, 2010 05:17 am (UTC)
Hmmm the point.

The point was that I was trying to articulately explain why I felt there was a difference in feeling responsible for a situation and not being willing to accept responsibility for the same situation, without being contradictory.

And I think I figured it out with the help of egbert's comment above - it's because my feeling of responsibility has to do with my sense of responsibility to my own morals/values - not for the individual and not for the situation. So one could theoretically be willing to accept some sense of moral responsibility but be unwilling to accept actual responsibility for the situation, and this would not be contradictory.

And "actual" isn't quite the right word here, but I'm having trouble finding the right word. You would think I had baby brain or something.
(Deleted comment)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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