I’ve been watching and reading various attempts at analysis of the concept of responsibility. One side advocates for “extreme ownership”: basically, everything is your fault and your responsibility to fix, because you are the only part of the world you can actually influence and change, and radiate change outwards from the center of self. The other side does the complete opposite and blames the external conditions for everything, stating that an individual is merely a product of the environment and can hardly be blamed for his actions, being little more than a deterministic automaton.
As you can imagine, my understanding of those things is more layered and nuanced.
First of all, I have to state that I don’t necessarily disagree with either side, but find them both lacking. Yes, you are the only thing over which you have full authority, and self is the necessary starting point of any change, be it positive or otherwise. And yes, the environment has an overwhelming influence that cannot be simply dismissed. As a saying goes, it’s easy to be a saint in heaven.
Truly, most people will be mere products of their environment. If they are born in a Muslim country they will be Muslim, if they are raised by atheists they will be atheists, they will adopt beliefs that make sense to them due to their experience and will act in ways that are usually a facsimile of their environment. One medieval serf is very similar to another; one medieval lord is very similar to another. People who are really different and stand out from their peers are very rare, probably in the order of one in a million. People who are able to really effect change and revolutionize the world are in the order of one in a billion.
However, that’s not important. What you are judged by are not the big and revolutionary things, such as inventing electricity or a social media platform. It’s the little things: how you addressed someone when you had the choice of kindness, cruelty or indifference. It’s not whether you were traumatized or not, but how you chose to react to your suffering: did it make you more compassionate to the suffering of others, or did you just propagate it in a form of black body radiation: you suffer, you release it by making others suffer. If you choose the latter, you can hardly call it choice, or manifestation of free will and personal sovereignty. If you do what everybody else does, does it make your actions justified, or are you just condemned as a non-entity, a NPC that executes a script? Sometimes a NPC script is to go to office, do work, go home, eat dinner. Sometimes it’s spy on enemies of the state, inform the authorities, watch them tortured and executed, eat dinner. And sometimes it’s round up people of wrong nationality or ideology, shoot them in the head, bury them in a ditch, go home, eat dinner. If there is no point at which you say “fuck this shit”, the point where you wake up from the routine of conformity and choose to be crushed rather than to comply, how the hell are you an incarnation of your soul in the first place? How can a NPC automaton incarnate a spiritual entity of a higher order? What the fuck are you, anyway?
I once had a dream where I was a thief running from the police, and I just followed the logic of the situation: run away, and when cornered, take the gun and… wait a fucking minute, am I following the logic of the situation and automatically defending myself and choosing to shoot someone just because I found myself in this position? The dream became lucid at the point where I refused the automatism of sin, and then I understood that it’s more than a dream, it was a karmic lesson. The things you choose when you don’t realize it’s a test are the most indicative of your character. The fact that you’re a peasant means you’re going to have a hard life. But choosing whether to take it out on your wife and children because you had a rough day, that’s on you.
This world is a shithole, but it’s a shithole for two reasons. First is the inherent design. The second is people.
The inherent design of the world makes you vulnerable to cold, hunger, injury, sickness, old age, and other forms of humiliation. But it’s the beings that incarnate here that can make it either much better, or much worse. If you’re a woman working alone in a field, thirst, exhaustion, heat and cold are bad enough, but whether that man passing by chooses to bring you some water and chat with you politely, and then blesses you and bids you farewell, or chooses to rape and murder you, can make all the difference. Prisons aren’t bad because of the walls, but because of the scum that lives there. Take a prison building, put saints inside and you’ll have a monastery.
So, basically, there’s plenty of blame and guilt to go around. Satan is not just a person; it’s also a state of consciousness and a type of choice. Sure, Satan designed this shithole, but I don’t think it’s possible to be here against your will. Everybody came here by choice, and the reasons for that choice vary. Some thought they could improve it. Some thought to test themselves against great hardship, to prove they have what it takes to overcome. Some, however, saw it as an opportunity to spite God and torture and destroy others in vicious hatred.
Some of the best things in this world are created by humans: arts, literature, science, spiritual literature, music, acts of love and kindness. Also, some of the worst things in this world are created by humans: torture, humiliation, subjugation of others, brutality, rape, murder, genocide, indifference and cruelty, filth and cynicism. As bad as this world is, you can choose to make it worse, or oppose it by being better. That one is up to you, and if you choose to be an asshole, or just do NPC things, you can’t use the world as a justification, because the world didn’t force you to be a cunt. It just caused you pain and humiliation, and reacting to that by being a cunt, and not by praising God because He is different and better than this world, that’s on you.