Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Sort of Like Responsibility…

I’ve got a question…well actually several questions.

Are we in any way responsible for how people interpret what we write?

Do we bear any accountability for the thoughts we post here in wordpress?

For instance, if we advocate violence against a particular group of people, because we have found it to be an effective tool of terror, then someone, after reading our post, attacks and seriously injures an individual, should we shoulder any blame?

Let me pose another situation.

What if we honestly believe that everyone should have sex with whoever they want, as long as all the parties involved in the actual act are of consenting age and agree and we write a post advocating my position. An individual reads our post and decides they ought to engage in a tryst with someone they have been having a flirtatious relationship with. But lets add one more detail. One of the parties is married with a couple of children and a loving spouse. The loving spouse finds out and is completely devastated by the broken trust.

Should we assume any liability?

Lets go a little deeper.

We write several posts detailing our high-flying, decadent, no holes barred, hedonistic life style full of drug and alcohol use, frequent and varied sex partners, a reckless disregard for the norms of society and law, and overall just a I don’t give a damn about anyone or anything attitude. We pick up several “followers,” who over time, actually start imitating our life style. Because of our posts they read, our videos they watch, and our tweets they receive, they begin to act out in their own lives the way we live. They embrace it with gusto…except they start to experience what we never mention…they hurt those who love them, others lose faith in them, and their lives begin a downward spiral.

Now how about this.

We write a blog that displays a hard edge. We are sharp, irreverent, and sometimes vicious, except only in words. We know how to run right up to the edge, but we never go over. We push the envelope of what is acceptable and maybe we lean over it, but we are cautious not to go too far. We are exploring new terrain and we begin to go viral. Thousands begin to read our posts. Jimmy Kimmel quotes us. Hip comedians weave our comments into their acts. Before long we are enjoying the type of success reserved only for a very few. But as time goes by new, more edgy blogs appear. What we once considered outlandish is now considered lame. Our bite is now more like a toothless grin. we are old school and we are not old enough for old school to be cool. Our fans trickle at first, then run away. The next new thing is so far out there that we can’t believe it. They don’t write they spew.

Are we in any way responsible for laying the ground-work for what came next?

Let me ask one more question?

Can we write whatever we want, yet wash our hands (and souls) of any responsibility for how our readers will interpret what we write?

You, no doubt, have noted how I’ve asked several questions without providing any answers. I have my opinions and I will write about them in my next post, but for now, I would like to hear what you think. You have also noticed how the scenarios I constructed are one-dimensional. In real life there would be many more nuances. Life rarely comes without dangling, messy strings. But I know you get the idea.

Let me know what you believe.

Be encouraged!

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42 thoughts on “Sort of Like Responsibility…

  1. OneHotMess on said:

    Yes, I believe we have a huge responsibility. I do not have television for a reason, because most of what is on there is reality shows that glorify the seamiest behaviors in our society and it is sickening. So line keeps getting move farther and farther away for good and wholesome and safe and sane. People are killing themselves because of bullying on social media sites and yet we do little to stop it. Yes, of course, we do have a responsibility. I think it is a far heavier one, too, in this era in which we live. God is watching us…

    • I share your sense of outrage at what we call entertainment, fashion, and social morals (are they even called that any more?). And yes I believe we have a responsibility…up to a point…which I’ll write about in another post.

      Glad to read you have forsaken the TV…my wife I kicked it to the curb 10 years ago…and have never missed it…although several our friends wonder how we can exist with out it…we wonder why they would want to live with it…hahaha.

      Be encouraged!

  2. OneHotMess on said:

    Pardon the typos. I am tired 😉

  3. Accountability, responsibility; each individual is answerable for their own decisions. Right or wrong – each is judged by their own actions.

    I know, the revisionist defination is not that clear – however in the end if we are true believers in God’s word, we will be held responsible for our own actions.

    Parents should instill in their children that they will have to live with bad decisions, not the people who espouse a different life style, not the people who live on the edge and encourage you to follow. Family ideals must be instilled in children from birth so that a firm, educated foundation is instilled prior to leaving the family group alone for school, etc. where they will make decisions based on their early teachings.

    I know I am old and my moral convictions are outdated, but they have served me well.

    Thank you for the questions.

  4. I think we are responsible for what we write if in fact it causes another to commit a hate crime….or as a Christian has an effect on someone with regard to morality as we are called not to do something that would cause our fellow believer to ‘stumble’

    However how another interprets what we write is the responsibility of the reader and how they then act out in response to what they have read is also their responsibility.

    Maybe that’s an over-simplification but in essence those are my thoughts…Diane

    • I believe there is strength and wisdom in simple things…I will write more about responsibility, but for now just let me say I think we do have responsibility up to a point…we can’t just write whatever, but neither can we assume guilt for those who are simply looking for the right switch to be turned on.

      Be encouraged!

  5. These questions are increasingly important in this age of social media. Ethically, I don’t think there are many doubts about the answers; legally, especially in the land of Free Speech, abusive use of social media is being challenged nearly every day, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. Makes one wonder.

    • I’ve heard a good interviewer only asks questions they already know the answer to…but if I were a better writer (with more time) I would have contrived much deeper and more intricate scenarios to discuss…

      Twitter has used it’s ability to turn off tweets due to their offensiveness and the law (a Neo-Nazi group in Germany). So where they exercising a sense of responsibility?

      It does make one wonder.

      Be encouraged!

  6. Hi Stephen,

    For me, this is a tough series of questions. I’m a live and let live kind of person for the most part.

    You ask, do we a responsibility for how other people interpret our word? I have to say yes and no to that question, partially because each of us is responsible for our own life and behavior, and some professions have legal responsibilities for what they say and write, such as medical professionals.

    You don’t mention how the wisest and kindest words and most innocent statements can be taken out of context to miscontrue intent. Lawyers and politicians have become masters of this type of legal but untruthful interpretations. In America, we are getting caught up in a war of words in politics that begins to make peaceful and intelligent discourse almost impossible.

    Certainly words have been used as weapons from the beginnings of recorded time, which is why every spiritual tradition has taught us to speak with love and truth and practice right speech. Each of us have a profound effect on the world with our words, whether written or spoken. I believe we have a responsibility to God to use our words with as much care as we are able.

    As much as public discourse and a blatant disregard for how our words affects others discourages me, my central challenge right now is on how to improve my communications with my teenage son. It’s often easy to be kinder to strangers than our own family. I’m finding myself challenged by how to instill an idea of right speech with him, and maintain right speech myself.

    I look forward to hearing more from you on this topic!


  7. ABSOLUTELY! We have to take responsibility for what we write. I don’t think we have to take responsibility for the different ways it gets interpreted, though. Everyone has their own filter and their own references by which they interpret blog material. For example, someone could be writing something as a joke but someone could take it seriously. If someone chooses to read something and then acts on it without understanding the context or the style of the writer, that’s not the writer’s fault. I think we have to do our research. If someone read Lily’s blog they might think she’s some harsh obnoxious kid. I know she’s really trying to be funny, that’s her intention. Not everyone gets her, though. Should she try and be pleasing to everyone…? No.
    But yes, I think that we need to be responsible with what we write. Otherwise we should always put up a disclaimer at the very least.
    That’s off the top of my head and it’s past my bedtime so it might not make any sense! Haha!

  8. Good for you, Getting everyone thinking a little more about what they are using the catalyst of blogging for. Also for encouraging some self-accountability of what may transpire from the platform of each stance we create in a post. I hold onto the belief system that we should be and will be held accountable for every word we write and every word we speak, also every action we perform every decision we make. Mistakes will always be made when lessons need to be learned but the consequences are just that…to teach. I assume for many who do not consider their accountability are lacking the wisdom to do so at the time, and they will learn the hard way won’t they?…usually!

  9. What you write is up to you. What other people think or do about it is up to then. We have no control over someone else’s thoughts, words or actions only our own. Just because you say it doesn’t mean i have to do it.

    • You are right in what you say, but is there such a thing as influence? Of course, we don’t have to do what others say, but are we responsible if we influence them? If we contribute to them taking action?…just wondering.

      Be encouraged!

      • Let’s take this to extremes. if someone reads something on your blog and they change their life because of it, they are more than likely to come back and tell you how wonderful you are and you are quite rightly feel good about it. However what if the same person reads your blog and think, i can’t be like them , i might as well end it and then kills themselves. You find out and are upset but are you responsible for what they did, in either case?

      • You bring up some very interesting points (which I fully expected you to do)…I’m wondering if there isn’t a sense of tension in this subject…what I mean is we have a responsibility up to a point, but not a complete and whole responsibility…of course, the great question is…where is that line?…where does our responsibility end and theirs begin…I don’t want to be responsible for the latter scenario you suggested…and I’m very careful about accepting the former…partly because of just what you described…while I want to be a force for good in this world (like you), I wrestle with where exactly is my place…I think you get what I mean.

        Thanks for taking the time to comment/reply…I have truly enjoyed your posts…please be encouraged!

      • You might like to read a book called – Waking Up To What You Do by Diane Eshin Rizzetto. I enjoy what you write too

  10. Stephen, very important and thought provoking questions. In one way we are, but at the same time we cannot take responsibility for other people’s thoughts and actions. Free speech is very important to me as it’s a part of a democratic society. And that means that everybody has the right to express their view even if I personally think many of them are disgusting. It’s also up to me to say no to hateful words, and actions like bullying, rasism, sexism, intolerance and violence, and instead be a positive force in society.

    I often wonder why negative tv-shows, and hateful blogs are so popular. I can write an essay about this subject, as I feel very strongly about it but I need to buy a pair of new sneakers for my trip, :). Have a wonderful Saturday! Terrible weather in Stockholm today… I don’t want to go outside, but I need to… Love to everybody, and that includes the gang of five! 🙂 //Marianne

    • Maybe I should write something about influence…enjoy the new sneaks, endure the weather, and fun on your trip…The Gang of Five, Susie, and I all say hi and wish you the best.

      Be encouraged!

      • Stephen, that’s a great idea. We should talk more about influence, and how much harm it can do when used in the wrong way. Have you ever been in London? Much of Europe’s flight traffic has once again been crippled due to the famous London fog. Missed my connection from Stockholm, but luckily got a ticket later tonight. I am only about 8 hours delayed so far… Many people have to wait for their connections until tomorrow, especially the ones going to the States, :).

      • Never been to London…but if you are willing to fork over the money for plane tickets Susie, the Gang of Five, and I are all ready…hahaha!

        Glad to hear you are ONLY 8 hours delayed…relax and go with the flow…look around…I bet there is someone you are supposed to talk to…just a sense.

        Be encouraged!

  11. I think we should always take responsibility for what energy we put out into the world, but ultimately it’s up to the individuals to choose whether or not to accept my energy or decide against it.

  12. orepuk on said:

    Une question très intéressante, qui mérite réflexion nos écris nous dépasse parfois par ce que nous n’avons pas la même pensé et la même culture.

  13. Absolutely we are responsible for what we write. This is a great post, we are accountable and will be held accountable. Our writing can affect others just as if we are speaking to them face-to-face. Thank you Stephen for this post, people do need to think about this.

    • Yes I do think we are responsible to some level…although I’m not quite sure to what extent…maybe the next post will about influence…thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts…be encouraged!

  14. Opinion, and not necessarily points of law: We are each responsible for our own actions. There is material to read on any subject, located everywhere, and anywhere. I may choose to read it. Choose not to read it. Choose to act at the inspiration of that reading material. It is, I who made the choices, and it is I who must be responsible for those choices. Not one of those authors literally or, for that matter, virtually twisted my arm to act.
    I am ethically bound by, character for what I write but, should not be responsible for what others do with what I write. Someone may be compelled, and otherwise influenced to act on that material but, it is they who, made the choice, not me.
    If we were held lawfully responsible in that context, free thought would not be able to continue, and otherwise diminish in to generic thoughts.

    • Technically (legally) you might be right Dave…but doesn’t your line of reasoning mean I can advocate, in writing, for the violent overthrow of the United States government, and if someone reads my words, becomes inspired by them, and that inspiration bears action, then I am in no way responsible for the influence I created.

      Again, I understand what you’ve written…but is there possibly some area of influence that we might be responsible fo?r…just wondering.

      • As I said, as far as I know, I am not quoting points of law. I believe a line needs to be drawn somewhere, and my first point is responsibility for my own actions.

        The example you give in your answer can probably be found, somewhere.

        Many times, I believe people do not have the courage of conviction, and must ‘shop’ for others of the same conviction to become lost in a crowd of others without courage of conviction.

        We are a relatively ‘free’ society compared to many. I am appalled at many items of the hatred, and bigotry on the internet. Yet, the writers are free to write, and we are free to read. I have been given the choice to hate. I made my choice not to hate. You don’t get to win with hate. It hasn’t worked up til now, and never will.

        Someone else, who is, responsible for their actions as I am may read the material, and subscribe to some atrocious idea, and/or action prescribed against one group or, another. They make that choice, they must live by, it.

        I re-iterate, in a free society, free expression is equal to freedom. If you restrict free expression, an avenue is closed, and we reflect only the thoughts of those who ‘lead.’ All other thoughts are generic.

        To maintain that freedom, we continue to write, bound by moral fabric. Everyone who reads, has a choice to be appalled or, act to the contrary.

        …..Let freedom ring…..

      • Absolutely great response, Dave…I couldn’t agree more…thanks Buddy for taking the time to write…I really appreciate it.

        Be encouraged!

  15. artyelf on said:

    Hmmm . . . I think we’ve already discussed most of this. When I write publicly, as in here at WP, I am very aware of responsibility. This doesn’t mean I always censor myself, but I will often put a caution at the beginning of a post if I feel its content may be triggering or offensive, and my ‘About’ pages usually carry a warning too. There are one or two things I will never write about publicly, so yes, I do have a line I will not cross.
    Blogging is unique, the use of tags means you often draw a select group of faithful followers, and in some areas of writing this doesn’t really matter. However, if you write about personal experiences (e.g. abuse history or mental illness), then you draw followers who can also be fragile, unwell and desperate. If you develop a standing in that ‘tag community’, perhaps if you are older and considered experienced, or a professional in the field – I believe then yes, there is a need to be responsible with your writing. Any writing dealing with mental health issues has the potential to attract vulnerable people, and personally, I do not want to live with the fact that I may have caused harm to another through my writing. If I need to write explicitly, there are many other avenues.
    This is the problem, there are so many factors in answering these questions in regards to responsibility, issues regarding content and ethics.
    I think my main rules in writing publicly involve being authentic and honest with myself, and, as much as possible, do no harm and act with kindness.
    Okay, I’ll pass the stick back to you now!
    Love and peace to you

    • I have greatly enjoyed hearing what you believe…one of my greatest thrills is hearing how people arrive at their beliefs…so thanks for sharing…and I’ve had a good time responding to everyone’s comment.

      I’ll be posting more on responsibility and influence here in a couple of of days…hopefully sometime this week…be encouraged!

  16. I believe that you are responsible only for your own actions therefore yes and no as to influencing others, if you directly send out a message telling someone else to do soething then of couse you are resonsible, however if you are talking about your own exereinces or writing fiction which someone else chooses to interpret a certain waty you cannot be accountable for their actions. if you held each accountable for what someone else would choose to do with their words we would all have to live in isolation all books media and forms of communication would hve to be banned including all forms of religious documentation, after all more people have been killed in the name of one god or another than by any other cause. the example you gave of the cheating spouse, there is nothing anyone could say that would make you cheat on your partner unless you already wanted to and were looking for an excuse, and I am pretty sure if I told you to go out and commit violence against someone you would politely tell me where to go…

    • You raise some excellent points, Paula…I’ve had a tremendous time reading and responding to everyone’s thoughts…while I believe as you do about accepting responsibility for what I write…I think we are responsible up to a point…as we know the world is filled with all types of folks and how they react/respond to our words is indeed interesting…let me give you an example…

      When I wrote about Chastity (which I will NEVER do again) I got responses from folks who thought I was against any sexual relations outside of marriage and from folks who thought I advocated that as long as the parties involved (no matter how many) where of consenting age, and no one was being coerced, then it was just fine to engage in every all types of sexual behavior.

      Same words, but entirely different interpretations…I learned a lot.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts…I have always appreciated your blog as well as the comments you have written to me…be encouraged!

  17. livvy1234 on said:

    Right Speech: (Ideally speaking, writing, thinking, and acting)

    In positive terms, right speech means speaking in ways that are trustworthy, harmonious, comforting, and worth taking to heart.

    When you make a practice of these positive forms of right speech, your words become a gift to others.

    In response, other people will start listening more to what you say, and will be more likely to respond in kind.

    This gives you a sense of the power of your actions: the way you act in the present moment does shape the world of your experience. You don’t need to be a victim of past events.

    But sometimes we need to purposefully speak, write, think, and act in a way that motivates people to stop cruelty, violence, and corruption. There is a fine balance, and sometimes we might even need to make a rant about something we feel is endangering our planet and its inhabitants because it relieves the pressure and anxiety we feel about a societal problem while we are in the process of trying to change it. So there is the ideal and the real and knowing when to strike a balance when we author a blog.

  18. I’ve scanned what previous writers have posted on this question we all face. They have been thoughtful and aware of the pitfalls. I know I need to be truthful and honest with my feelings to myself and therefore in my writing. I’m more with the group that suggests what we do is influence, not dictate or hold all end responsibility. Parents aren’t given that heavy responsibility for their own children. Free speech is extremely multi-faceted. What I think too many people are missing is the ability to think critically, step back from an issue and really look at it before believing it or its messenger.

    • The responses have created a firestorm of creativity in my mind…I can’t wait to write more…when I have a little bit more time.

      Hey, btw…thanks for taking the time to comment…I appreciate it.

      Be encouraged!

  19. livvy1234 on said:

    Because I am contemplating once again writing my story on a new blog I just started, I came back to your post here to see what I initially wrote. Sure enough, I wrote about what I find conflicting: right speech.

    I am far from being the perfect blogger, and just the act of blogging, and having some readers can build ego and that is dangerous. I am always trying to balance my ego – somehow no matter what I do, it still tries to take over. My issue is perfectionism, and I have failed miserably. So, I am not sure what is okay to write or not write in a blog, or a book for that matter. The roles I give to people in my stories may or may not be true or real…depending on the age I was, the mood I am writing in, the present moment, and of course, the age I am when a memory comes up. The memories come up without me bringing them up, and at different ages, I think differently about the people I felt angry at, or what I did myself to make others angry. There is no set story…just a massive web of spaghetti that keeps coming up in different forms. So there is some responsibility one must take when writing the story…confused.

    • Only write Truth…that way there is never a problem…I have events in my life I don’t write about because I have lied so much in my life I literally no longer remember what is real and what is invented…but I chose not to write about those times…I stick with only what I know to be True…no problems then.

      As far as ego is concerned…yeah it can be a problem when you look at your statistics and watch them grow…especially if they grow by leaps and bounds (which is not a problem I’ve ever had to deal with…lol). My solution is to constantly remind myself of where I came from…everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is a gift…and just as quickly be gone…I treasure it all…plus I know what kind of regular screw up I am, so outlandish ego isn’t as big of a problem as it might be if I had any real writing talent.

      Keep writing…keep telling the Truth…and keep being free…you have the voice…be encouraged!

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