Who’s Responsible?

The other night I went to sleep and told my guides to send me a dream I could blog about.  I do this periodically to give them a chance to send me something they want me to share with others.  The dream I had that night had a profound emotional impact on me and I realized it was indeed something to blog about.  Of course, it came through as a metaphor…

In the dream I walked into the kitchen in my parents’ house and saw a loaf of sliced bread sitting out on the countertop with its bag sitting right next to it.  I looked around and saw maybe a dozen people sitting in the adjacent den watching television.  I said out loud, “Hey, someone left the bread out.  It’s going to get stale.”  One person glanced my way, shrugged, and turned back to the television.  I felt annoyed.  I said into the room louder, “Hey!  This bread!  Who left it out?  It’s going to get stale?”  Someone turned to me and said, “Just put it away for us will you?  We’re busy.”  I felt miffed.  “No, you left it out, you put it back.  It’s your responsibility!”  I was told to “talk to the hand.”  Now I was angry.  No one tells me to talk to the hand! 

I left the kitchen to seek justice.  In another room I found other people who were deep in conversation.  They seemed to be complaining that the people in the den were irresponsible.  They seemed more aware than the people watching television.  So I went up to them and said, “Hey, did you know there’s a loaf of bread in the kitchen and it’s been left out?  It’s going to go stale unless someone puts it back in its bag.”  The people there looked properly outraged.  One of them said, “Thank you for letting us know.  We’ve been trying to get the others to take more responsibility for leaving food out.  We’ll go in there and demand that they put the bread away.”  The next thing I know, the aware group of people marched into the den and turned off the television.  Outrage and arguing ensued.  I watched.  I saw a lot of accusations flying and some minor physical squabbles.  I looked back to the kitchen and saw the bread sitting out, getting staler by the moment.  “I hope those people can resolve this soon,” I thought.  But it didn’t appear that anything constructive was being done.  Everyone was just arguing about who should put the bread away.

I decided that the best thing I could do was to find a judge who would rule on whose responsibility it was to put the bread away.  So I walked around the house until I found a judge.  I explained the situation and he told me the people who left the bread out in the first place had an obligation to put it back in the bag.  I explained that they didn’t seem willing.  He replied, “Well I’ll write out the judgment and put it on record so at least people know who is responsible.”  I asked him, “Can’t you make them put the bread away?”  He looked at me and said, “That’s not my job.”  I sighed.

I walked back to the kitchen area with my written ruling.  But I saw that the two groups I’d left were just fighting and arguing over this bread.  No one was willing to look at my written judgment.  In fact some people suggested that if I was so concerned about the bread that I just put it away myself, but a part of me felt like that would mean giving in to tyranny.  I’m not the one who left the bread out so why should I put it back?  I mean, if I put the bread away then those people will just do it again, knowing that someone else would clean up their mess.  But I felt frustrated because no one was willing to back down and take responsibility for the situation.

I walked over to the bread to see how stale it had become.  At least a couple of pieces were showing signs of staleness.  I was going to bring this to the attention of the people in the den but suddenly it was as if the bread was speaking to me.  “Please,” it said, “I don’t want to go stale.  Will you help me?”  Compassion welled up inside me for the loaf of bread.  It just clicked what had to be done.  I put the bread in the bag and sealed him up.  I felt its relief.  And I felt good inside.  And I realized in that moment that it doesn’t matter who took the bread out and who is responsible for putting it away.  When you see a situation that needs fixing and you’re capable of fixing it, you fix it.  You don’t argue about who is responsible.  It wastes valuable time.

After I put the bread away I saw that the people in the den were still arguing over what would be done in the future to make sure the bread was safe.  And I looked over at my friend, the loaf of bread, and I said, “Don’t worry little guy.  If they take you out of your bag again I’ll be here to put you back.”  And the bread was happy.  And it was good.  And the people in the den didn’t matter.  No matter what they did or how they messed things up, I vowed to fix them if I could.

So I woke up from this dream and realized that we, as a people, spend an awful lot of time assigning blame and making demands on other people to do what we want them to do.  Meanwhile, there are a lot of things going wrong in the world.  Many of them are easily fixed.  Some of them are happening in our own backyards.  We spend a lot of time electing people who are supposed to represent our wishes, and they spend a lot of time in a big room arguing over what should be done and how much it will cost to do it and who is responsible.  And we already know that you can you give up control to others but never responsibility.  No matter who we elect to serve the public good, we are still responsible as individuals to “put the bread away” when we see it’s been left out. 

Today I challenge you to be on the lookout for bread that’s going stale.  And instead of trying to find out who is responsible or wishing someone would handle it, take responsibility for what you see and put the bread back in the bag.  Rescue it.  In the end the only person responsible for and capable of changing the world is you.

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