The Importance of Accountability

Personal responsibility and accountability to the world around us is a concept we all have to believe in to some extent. Intrinsic to our understandings of ourselves is our ability to control our own affairs, to manage our impulses and desires. We understand the importance of standards, we make efforts to adhere to those standards in order to live healthy and productive lives. People for the most part want the same things. We want to live peacefully and in accordance with each other. We want to be valued and liked within our social structure. We want to avoid being hurt and doing harm to others. It’s easy to lose connection with reality and with each other in the modern world. We’re smart animals and we know what we want, to escape. In the modern world, escapism is easier to engage in and more readily accessible than it has ever been. When we escape, we avoid accountability. Accountability being a theme throughout this semester, the narratives present in the literature, and the ideas we have engaged with as a class this semester, have made me notice and think about what happens when people avoid accountability. 

Working as part of a group made me realize what I am capable of when part of a team. Because I was accountable for others beyond myself, I thought about the consequences in terms of how they would affect my team rather than just myself. It’s easy to give up when no one is depending on you, when no one cares and no one would notice but yourself if you were to stop trying. With others, I am driven forward to mind my conduct and apply my efforts in ways which will benefit those who depend on me. Through having a team, I am made accountable to something outside myself.

Throughout the course, I found myself relating and empathizing with the characters in the literature we read as a class. Their journeys and personal growths were painful and difficult at times, just as mine has been. They weren’t in control of their own lives until something shook up their passivity toward the world around them. The characters in the literature we have read and the people whose lives we have discussed all deal with the concept of control. Central to the theme of this course has been autonomy over our own affairs, the power that it can bring when utilized effectively and the chaos it can lead to when it isn’t. Unable to continue being idle, they were forced to engage in the situation they’re faced with in life. They are compelled to get up and start anew after being knocked down if they’re given the chance. By failing on my own terms, I have been taught a valuable lesson about accountability and what it takes to govern myself in healthy and helpful ways. In failing and experiencing the consequences of those failures, I am accountable to the results of poor decision making and a passive attitude toward what needs doing. Witnessing the growth of characters in the literature we read ran parallel to my own personal growth of accountability in experiencing the course.

Evidence for growth of a character I identified most closely with came with Ci in Home by Toni Morrison. Reliant on her brother and everyone to help her out, in the end she is dependent only on herself, capable of holding herself up without the need of others to be responsible for her. Her journey is one of finding strength through personal accountability. Only by confronting her dependence on others and overcoming it can she hope to live on her own in a way which allows her to be self sufficient. Her ability to take care of herself and live on her own terms comes only after great trauma and loss. Her ability to trust and care about life must be repaired after being betrayed and grievously injured. Despite the way harm is inflicted on her, she bounces back stronger and does not allow her trauma to define her.

Growth can also be observed in Alice Achitophel from Zulus by Percival Everett lives a life which is structured for her. She is forced to take control of her own life and confront dangers that she has been sheltered from. She deals with forces beyond her control and undergoes a very real and literal transformation as a result. Transformation and adaptation to difficult circumstances is something Human beings must be capable of in order to survive. I too have had to adapt and change in order to achieve what I truly want for myself and others.

During my time in this course, I did not perform as well as I had intended, but I did produce work I am proud of. This strain I am feeling at its end, the cause of it is a lesson learned. I need to balance my life in order to get what I want in it. Responsibility and self control lead to the ability to make good decisions for myself. These decisions improve my values by giving me more to appreciate in life. Regardless of whether a choice I make has a good or bad outcome, I learn something from making it. From this I can take a lesson and in the end, I am left with wisdom I did not have before. My journey ran parallel to those we read about where characters grapple with life and are put through many trials before realizing their strength. In finding that strength, our perceptions of ourselves are altered for the better. In experiencing what it is like to produce work I can be proud of, I was made intrinsically accountable to myself and my desire to feel that kind of success and pride for my own reasons.

The course was also deeply engaged in showing us the harm that can be done to others when accountability is not present in a position of power. Works such as Fortune’s Bones showed the reality of guilt and what it does to the mind of someone who has done evil to others. I never want to be forced to look back on my life and realize that I hurt anyone through irresponsible or cruel behavior. With great power comes great responsibility. People with power but no responsibility become villains. There were no shortage of villains in the literature we examined as a class. Learning about horrors such as the Tuskegee medical experiments, Nazi-era warping of medicine, and the evil deeds done by Japan’s Unit 731, have taught me about the extent of harm which can be done by those in power being unconcerned with the rights and feelings of others human beings. Through learning that history I have gained insight into accountability toward what is ethical and right for someone in a place of power over others. I will never allow myself to be a villain. These themes, connected with previous lessons I took away from the Art of Steve A. Prince, taught me about how misuse of authority granted to us can harm the people accountable to it.

Both and is the idea that ideas can be distinct and interconnected in a given stream of thought.  Personalizing our arguments and making connections to our own lives is important for producing writing of value. Likewise, the importance of reflection is not lost on me. By looking at the past, the history we share of hatred, violence, and cruelty, and apathy, we can be better than that. I can take this lesson and apply it to other aspects of my own life. When facing a barrier which needs to be overcome, or seeing wrongdoing in the world, make it personal. I will not stand idly by when something bad is happening. Though that lesson I needed came too late this semester for me to succeed in the way I had originally intended to, I am nevertheless thankful that it came. What I have now are the tools I need to do better. I will do better going forward because of this class. I will be accountable for myself and to others.

Overall, this course has greatly aided my ability to write and read in ways which will show my audience that I am competent and capable of writing well. This development has been valuable. As a result of taking the course, my knowledge of a very overlooked history has been made greater as has my ability to relay it to others in writing. I have learned a great deal in this course, not only about history and racism in medicine, but about myself and who I ought to be. I want to be an accountable person, someone who can be trusted by others. I want to be trusted not only to do what needs to be done, but to do what is right in any situation I am faced with.

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