Originally Posted by Alecto
I had a teacher in high school who would give a whole lecture every year about "the bars of the cage".
The general gist is that 90% of the people in this world do not see the bars of their cage. They do not want to be freed etc. You 10% out there DO, and more's the pity because there's a happiness-in-ignorance that will forever be denied to you because of it. And now, for the really screwed up part: YOU are responsible for the other 90%.
The phrasing and analogy is a bit clumsy with just what we're talking about with responsibility, but the truth is there's LOTS of different bars in society, and I can only see some of 'em, and I'm never going to get all the way through even one but I can pick one as my time and energy allows and file away best I can.
To answer the questions directly: Yes, I think once you see suffering or injustice, you have some responsibility to do something about it. It's just not even a choice to me: you can't unsee the bars of the cage, and I know I couldn't live with myself just pacing about inside the cage: I don't think one person can save the world, but perhaps he or she can save another person. Or a group of people. What fulfillment of that responsibility looks like is going to be different for everyone, and I think that's kind of the point because there's SO many different kinds of problems.
This is great! Would love more of this.
How did your teacher define the cage? Was he speaking existentially? Philosophically? Sociologically?
Your 90%/10% figures correspond exactly to something my husband often says to me. When I exclaim (as I do nearly daily) that I just can't understand the majority of people, my husband trots out those numbers and says that I belong to a 10% minority. He defines them as 'followers' and 'leaders,' putting the leaders in 10%. What he tells me is that I have a personality type that "should" be leading.
That was an interesting puzzler for me, because I had never considered leadership, and never considered myself as a leader. I think, because I had not thought about what leadership might mean. When I go back through my life history and decisions though, I can see a lifelong history of speaking out and telling those who were actually in positions of leadership, "This is what needs to be done. Here's why. Here's how."
I would be interested to see from Alecto how you, or your former teacher, might relate those 90-10 percentages, the 'cage', and the ideas of leadership and responsibility.
I love how you put it, that you can't 'unsee' the bars of the cage. That's true. That seeing results in responsibility (responsibility of the duty sort, this time, Jen and everyone) is very meaningful.
Remember, once you understand, you become responsible.