Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you … it means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security, for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means Insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind.
It means being able to say, with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre: “I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all the extraneous delights should be withheld or offered only at a price I can not afford to give. Responsibility to that means you yourself do not fall for shallow and easy solutions – predigested books and ideas … marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems.
It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short … and this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society that say women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the places assigned to us. That means we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives.
It means, therefore, the courage to be “different” … the difference between an actively lived life, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.
- Adrienne Rich
If you start with a cage containing five monkeys and inside the cage, hang a banana on a string from the top and then you place a set of stairs under the banana, before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.
As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray all the other monkeys with cold water.
After a while another monkey makes an attempt with same result all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, put the cold water away.
Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.
The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, all of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a new one.
The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment…… with enthusiasm, because he is now part of the “team”.
Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by the fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to thestairs, he is attacked.
Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
Finally, having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana.
Why, you ask? Because in their minds…that is the way it has always been!
This, my friends, is how authoritarian administrations, like governments, operate… and this is why, from time to time:
ALL of the monkeys need to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME.
Photo credit: Google