Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about “accountability”. The dictionary describes it as “the obligation to explain, justify, and take responsibility for one’s actions.” Every person who has reached the age where he or she is able to act of his own volition, has the obligation to be held accountable. For this reason, as young children we are taught that if we voluntarily misbehave, we will be called upon to take responsibility for our actions and accept the consequences that follow. This is how acceptable behaviors are reinforced, and unacceptable ones are deterred.
Sadly, these days, there can be no counting on accountability. Far too many of us are running around lawlessly and unchecked. We say one thing then we do another. We curse, we lie, we cheat and steal, all in the absence of accountability and even sadder, there are no repercussions for the lack of it. Gradually, the unacceptable becomes acceptable thereby breeding lack of respect and mediocrity.
Without accountability, there’s no guilt, no regret, no remorse. This emboldens us to push the limits of our liberties and blur the lines of what is right or wrong. We keep pushing the envelope further and further while those with the authority to correct, turn their heads the other way and the world just keeps on changing for the worse, one unaccountable minute after another. I remember the days when just the mere thought of impropriety was enough of a scandal to embarrass one into hiding. Not so today, in fact, it would appear that sometimes this shame is worn as a badge of courage and honor.
But our need for accountability hasn’t changed, in fact, it is needed more today than it ever was. Not only should we expect to be held accountable, but we should demand it from others, especially those in authority. Accountability results in us keeping our word and respecting the normal boundaries set by society and if we should ever overstep those boundaries there should be checks and balances, responsibilities and repercussions to pull us back in line. We cannot continue to function optimally or at all without it, and we shouldn’t need to or even want to.
We should demand that all people of “freewill” are always held to standards where they are always responsible for their actions, and we should strive for a society where we can always count on accountability.