Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Rational Responsibility

I just read a really good article by Jessica Bennett, in which she articulates precisely Where Responsibility Lies. Her piece certainly needs no additional commentary from me, but I’ll just put the excerpt into context.

An analogy is drawn from the recent resurgence of the Super Hero motif in Hollywood, wherein themes include: altruism, self-sacrifice and ‘social responsibility’.

Movies, for all their fantastic plotlines, impregnable heroes, and copious amounts of beautiful people, often reflect generic ideals of society: There are no masked vigilantes crouched atop church steeples, no caped crusaders leaping into the night, or white-haired women whipping up tornados, but there are those with extraordinary power.

But there are those with money, connections, intelligence, or celebrity, and it seems all too often society expects these people to save the world — one begging hand at a time.

Why is it that those with power are expected to be superheroes or supervillians? Is there some social contract that mandates Spiderman’s motto? Must those with power also feel the burden of social responsibility? My answer is no.


No one, anywhere, is ever obligated to save the world. No one should ever be expected to shoulder the weight of other people’s problems. Those who have earned their powers, their money, or celebrity, have the natural right to dispose of their assets in the way most pleasing to them.

There are a lot of great causes in the world, a lot of problems that need mending, but each and every person is liable only to themselves, not society.

My argument is not against giving, helping, or even saving the world; it is against the expectation that we must give and others must take.

She took the words right out of my mouth...then she arranged them more cogently than I did. Alas, it’s not surprising that she gets paid to write the truth, while I'm just an obscure blogger with delusions of adequacy.