Responsibility is an inbred quality in many animals and in a sense in any living creature, even plants, because it implies a duty to do certain things to maintain the survival and coherence of the species. Responsibility in humans reaches beyond those instincts but it is a quality built upon our natural pre-human heritage by our ability to use language. With that ability comes the NO command so often heard by children and as they mature becomes the yes demand to do certain things. As we get acclimated to what we need to do to get by in life, we can internalize our obligations and the word should is attached to hoped-for actions by our authority figures.
What should we do now, is one of the great philosophical questions which most people believe has no definite answer other than to be good to other people in general and faithful to one’s family and friends in particular. The precept “Treat other people as they should treat you” is intended to help other people live better lives, but it also serves to help the person who cultivates that habit, because it trains their inner store of habits to treat their own self well too.
These human forms of responsibility require the transmission of wisdom from a human culture which has the accumulated experience and thought about those experiences to give proper advice. Unfortunately, there is a superabundance of accumulated foolishness too, and so it requires a person with common sense to an uncommon degree to find the path themselves and to guide others along paths which will be most beneficial to those particular individuals and to humanity in general. The wisdom must be illustrated by actions, but these actions require a proper matrix of thoughts for them to be understood by the viewers and that requires language.
“To be responsible for our actions we must understand what we are doing.”