Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Statue of Responsibility

Many years ago, then Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley proposed a Statue of Liberty West for Los Angeles.  I remember thinking at the time that it was not going to be easy to get France to make us another statue.  And certainly, New York wouldn't do L.A. the favor.  After all, why create competition for those tourist dollars?

My not-so-modest proposal

I’ve thought since, Why not come up with something of our own, something unique, something that would complement Liberty herself? How about a Statue of Responsibility?

And why not?  With all the clamoring for rights and freedoms, a Statue of Responsibility would be a fitting reminder that the price for those rights is duty, and that freedom without responsibility cannot endure. 

Responsibility and rights--a meaningful relationship

Can you imagine people parading down the streets of Los Angeles with placards demanding their duties and responsibilities?  The politicians wouldn't know what to do with themselves.  Why they might even feel obliged to be responsible themselves! 

I thought my idea for a new statue was brilliant until I discovered that Viktor Frankl thought of it first. He further wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning that “Freedom…is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness.”

How I lost my freedom

Isn’t it true that when we as individuals fail to be responsible with our rights and freedoms, that we eventually lose them, some to the point of being imprisoned either in an institution or in some other way?   As a child, I remember being grounded for throwing snowballs at cars.  And, oh yeah, the police caught me and brought me home. “Hi, Mom. I’m home.” The look on her face told me that my freedom to throw snowballs was going into cold storage for awhile.

Since then, I have observed in my own life that when I have behaved responsibly, I have felt more alive and productive.  As I get older, I want even more to keep living

Lady Liberty, meet Gentleman Responsibility

As to the design of this Statue of Responsibility, I have in mind a guy statue.  After all, since Liberty is such a wise and benevolent woman, I like Responsibility as an ordinary workman with his sleeves rolled up, a roll of blueprints under his arm, and his jaw set.  A smile would be nice, too.  After all, he knows he's free.  Keep living!


  1. Love your blog Dave!

  2. Someone asked me privately about Viktor Frankl. I chose to quote him because he was a World War II concentration camp survivor who lost his political liberty and yet retained his individual freedom through personal responsibility. It’s a fascinating story.

  3. I think you will find blogging another of the best therapy you never had to pay for.

    I love reading your clear, concise thoughts. I've been grappling with the same ideas of being responsible for our own freedom. A recent book I read introduced me to a concept I'd probably known yet never articulated - When we fail to draw our own boundaries, someone else will do it for us. It is often not in the same realm of where we would have wanted them.

    Looking forward to reading more.

  4. A Musing Mother, thank you for your comments, especially the one about "boundaries." It's like I tell my kids, "If you don't develop an inner discipline [translation: sense of responsibility], then you'll eventually face some outside discipline." You'll probably hear more from me on responsibility in this blog since I believe it is one of the keys to the door of personal fulfillment that anyone can turn. :-) Keep Living!