At a site I often visit and contribute answers to questions called Answerology.com, I read a question from a man who asked “As your child grows up at what age do you expect to be able to hold them accountable for their disobedience or wrongs.” Looking at the question as I believe most would do, I would have probably answered the question with something akin to “It depends on the child” until I realized that according to many schools of thought surrounding accountability, including my own, I cannot hold another person accountable, that I can only hold myself accountable. I further believe that accountability is, for the most part, an unteachable quality, like discipline or integrity, yet it is a quality that can be instilled in a person at an early age by providing a safe, non-judgmental space for the person to properly access the consequences of their own behavior. Unfortunately for most of us, the demands of living leave us with little time to make that kind of environment available for our progeny and we surely cannot expect that state-funded public education or even most private or charter schools to have the where-with-all to providing such a safe non-judgmental environment for instilling qualities like accountability to thrive, so that both our child-rearing and educational system are left with relying on obedience and compliance in order to have the time to teach knowledge and skills needed to survive along with providing a meager amount of life-enrichment through activities like music, art and, dare I say, sports. Can all we ever hope for in our children is that they become obedient and compliant to the expectations of the society into which we have chosen to birth them? Here in, I believe, lies my own shadow of obedience/compliance, for I have chosen, for the most part, obedience and compliance over standing for my own accountability and integrity.
I recently spoke about a shadow I called virtue. I raised the question of whether or not virtue is a quality to which it is necessary to aspire if we are present to the idea that we are not separate from each other or from our source that some may call God, for if we really are all one, would we not always be acting in alignment for the highest good even without being able to consciously know what that good is? Are obedience and compliance virtuous and the only way to prevent lawlessness, unworkability and chaos? I say no, for I not only believe that I can, but also I believe that I actually do live in a world where integrity is simply the state or condition of being whole and complete and where I am accountable by honoring my word. What I mean by honoring my word is that if I am unable to keep my word I will communicate as soon as I know I am unable to keep my word to those who are counting on me and I will clean up any messes with those who counted on me that resulted from not keeping my word. From this state of wholeness, I believe that by honoring my word, I create workability.