September 5, 2017

Holding People Accountable and Creating Good Citizens

More and more I become distressed when I observe a sense of entitlement in people. This is partly because people with a sense of entitlement do not make for good citizens. Being a good citizen means being a contributor, a person who contributes to the collective, this means acting with the intent to give. In fact, being a good citizen is where we start to develop the capacity to give, which is also what it means to become mature.

Society, in fact, does us an immense favour when it makes us concern ourselves with contributing. When society holds people accountable for their intent it forces them out of their mediocrity, it forces us to forego a lower order intent for a higher order intent. Because I’m being held accountable for my intent to contribute they create the possibility that I start acting with an increasingly higher order of intent, that is, I start concerning myself more with the intent to give. It is a natural process. If we live in a world that is completely laissez faire, nobody may judge me for anything, then how can we play this role for each other?

Without an engagement with the world that confronts me with my intention, I don’t grow. The fundamental mechanism that sits underneath all growth is negation. If I was not disapproved of for my tantrums as a three-year old I would still tantrum like a three-year old today.

At every level, a higher order of maturity is established because the lower order way of functioning is made dysfunctional by the other. The other confronts you. You are held accountable for your intent. All actions are by their intentions. That is saying that the value of an action, the significance of an action is judged on the basis of its intent. Accountability is about intent.

So this is why I insist that a social order that does not hold the individual accountable for the malevolence of their intention is fundamentally disabling. Such a society can only cultivate weak, grasping, cowardly and selfish individuals.