Wednesday, April 17, 2013

responsibility, Charles-Monroe-style

Responsibility probably has as many definitions as there are people willing to define it, but it does seem to play a key role in a happy life no matter what the definition.

I don't generally like letting others do my lifting for me, but over many years I have enjoyed the words of Charles Monroe, who was described in a 1939 interview as "not a man of wealth or education," but was, at about 50, considered a leading citizen of New Marlborough, Mass., where he was a mail clerk. I keep the interview as a link on this blog because, I guess, everyone likes to remember what makes their hearts sing.

Today, instead of being responsible, I offer, as I have in the past, an excerpt from Charles Monroe's ranging views on small town living, Christianity, song, forgiveness and other aspects of his life:
I try to be a good citizen by performing certain public and personal duties which most of my friends would throw up their hands at if I suggested they perform along with me. In my opinion there's too much 'passing the buck' going on today. I don't like many of our laws - capital punishment, for instance - but since I'm a voter and a sustainer of our form of government, I of course automatically make myself as responsible as any other individual in the upholding of our laws. As a sort of an 'accessory to the fact' I once forced myself to attend an execution down in Sing Sing prison where my brother-in-law holds a good job. It was an ugly business. One witness fainted and another vomited, and it was a big relief to get out of there. I felt like the executioner myself, as I was partly, for the fact that we do not press the button or cut the rope doesn't let any of us off.
But if I can't convince you that I was a killer in that instance, you'll have to grant that I'm a killer of pigs and cattle, for I've often helped farmers butcher their live stock. I've done this to satisfy my own conscience, for I'm a meat eater, and being a meat-eater, why shouldn't I assist with the dirty work? You smile!
Not all of the interview is as indelicately in-your face as the above, but I cite it because life has a way of getting in your face no matter how delicate anyone might be.

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