To whom much is given, much will be required. Luke 12:48
Local philanthropist Sally Brown died on April 30, 2011, at age 100. I had the chance to meet this remarkable woman and even sit next to her at several dinners on occasion. KET did a documentary about her entitled “Force of Nature.” That title is perfect for this feisty woman. I recognized its source right away.
George Bernard Shaw wrote, “This is the true joy in life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selﬁsh little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Of any person I know, Sally Brown deserved a documentary entitled “A Force of Nature.” She was a perfect example, as was her son Owsley Brown, of the words of Scripture, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
They felt the great responsibility that went with their blessings — the responsibility to bless others. The freedom that her blessings gave her came with great responsibility.
I thought it might be a good idea to write something about freedom and responsibility on this Fourth of July weekend. Even though many in our culture keep trying, freedom cannot be separated from responsibility without disastrous results both for the individual who tries to separate them, as well as the society within which they try.
There are several examples of how people avoid responsibility in a free society. Conformity is one good example.
Many of our citizens pride themselves on being autonomous to the point of idealizing individualism. However, upon closer analysis, they find extremely creative ways of giving up their freedom. Take for example our amazing habits of conformity to whatever “everybody else is doing” and our blind allegiance to one political party, giving up our responsibility to think critically.
Another way to avoid responsibility can occur through the belief that one is powerless and therefore needs to be taken care of (with the exception of small children, the critically ill or the totally disabled). A person may be able to cite reasons why they are a victim, and those realities may indeed influence a person, but none of them render a person powerless or completely control them.
Many people choose to be unaware of their responsibility simply because it is much easier.