lazy bitches need not apply

When your house transforms into an island courtesy of the overflowing St. Johns River, you begin to re-evaluate your responsibilities and ask certain questions. Such as, do I really believe a termite and flea-infested house built in 1880 can withstand tropical storm winds? More importantly, if swept away by the river will child-sized flotation devices work just as effectively on two domestic short-haired cats?
No matter what life hurls at you, there are always responsibilities to step up to. Embrace responsibility is this column’s mantra.
The first type of responsibility you have is to yourself– to never give up, no matter what obstacles come your way. This means remaining on the right path and getting shit done. It means maintaining the truest essence of yourself, despite the multiple directions people will pull you. No one says life is a breeze. As the saying goes, ‘If it was easy, everyone would do it’.
First a bit of inspiration for your soul. A few years ago Africa elected its first female president, apparently long before America will do the same. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was appointed as Liberia’s head of state in 2006. Prior to her election, this broken country experienced 14 years of bloody civil wars. The wars left Liberia with an 85 percent unemployment rate and billions of dollars in debt. Her hometown of Monrovia had been without running water and electricity for 10 years. Ellen felt a responsibility to help her country that had long been devastated by corruption and failed leadership. But the road for Africa’s “Iron Lady” proved to be no easy journey. She obtained a master’s degree at Harvard, became the first female minister of finance and was imprisoned and exiled for criticizing corrupt Liberian regimes. Still, Ellen pursued a righteous path to help repair her battered country.
So far her presidency has relived the country of more than a billon dollars of debt and mandated free primary education for all elementary school-aged Liberian children. In addition, she appointed many powerful women to leadership positions, also a first. Ellen has brought together tribes that were at war. And she cares about the concerns of all Liberians by listening and showing compassion. For the first time in many years, there is hope for this country on Africa’s west coast. Ellen acknowledged her responsibility to help restore her corruption-tainted country and hasn’t given up.
The next venture into responsibility confronts ignorance. Part of your responsibility in life is to inform and educate yourself because you do and can have an effect on other people’s lives.
Essentially, IT IS YOUR responsibility to educate yourself. So if you don’t know what the presidential candidate’s platforms are, do some research. Don’t just rely on what you see or hear on T.V. and random emails. And yes, you should care about this monumental turning point in American history. This election will have a direct effect on your life and the lives of your children.
I recently ran into someone who said he thinks Barack Obama is the Antichrist. There’s mud slinging in every election. But the stakes are particularly high this time, so there’s a lot of false information floating around. Obama has demonstrated that he acts more like Christ than most politicians by the way he fights to eradicate poverty and restore human rights. So the statement this person made confused me. When asked, ‘Why do you think that?’ I received no real response. By the way, only watching FOX news or other biased networks isn’t true research or an adequate source for information.
But more than the election, it is your responsibility to be educated about issues that arise in your journey so you can embody the leadership society needs. I think it’s obvious we need more female leaders in this turbulent world. Embrace your educational responsibility. I didn’t learn crap about history in my S.C. high school- so now I am reading books on American history.
Once you have obtained knowledge, it is also your responsibility to pass that information along to others.
Now I’ll heighten your commitment a bit. Consider the responsibility to speak the truth and act righteously. Notice I didn’t mention anything about upholding the laws-of-the-land. Sometimes behaving righteously acts against man-made laws. This is true for discrimination. All human beings deserve to be treated equally, even if you don’t agree with their sexual preference. Many people don’t want to bestow the same rights that heterosexuals have to homosexuals. That’s wrong.
Sometimes saying what needs to be said isn’t easy but it’s the responsible way to act. It’s the only way to make corrupt behavior transparent. Being a passive spectator in life is lazy and hurts everyone.
I’ll always be grateful to a close friend who wasn’t afraid to voice her concern over my ex’s controlling and abusive behavior. Her words let me know I wasn’t crazy. She gave me perspective I couldn’t grasp on my own because I was too close to the problem. And she was the only person who had the courage to speak the truth. The responsibility to be honest can be hard, but it doesn’t do anyone good to sugar-coat reality.
So how do you know which road to take? I think humans instinctually know good, ethical ways to navigate life. Often, you must turn off all outside influences and listen to yourself. This means complete silence and stillness. You can’t find your direction in life while driving a car or juggling multiple tasks at work. As Ellen Degeneres says, “I believe silence is golden, it is where all of our answers are.”
Embracing these forms of responsibilities will help you make good decisions in life. And possibly help you make positive changes society desperately needs. Here are some resources to help along the way.
Interactivities: Check out Ellen’s comedy bit about finding silence at my Myspace page: myspace.com/amstewartview. Find more information about the Iron Lady of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, at pbs.org/independentlens/ironladies/

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