Responsibility and Risk

By Paulo Coelho

For The Bali Times

The Latin root of the word “responsibility” reveals its meaning: the capacity to respond, to react.

A responsible warrior was capable of observing and training. He was even capable of being “irresponsible”: sometimes he let himself be carried away by the situation, and did not react.

But he learned his lessons; he took an attitude, listened to some advice and was humble enough to accept help.

A responsible warrior is not the one who places the weight of the world on his shoulders, but rather he who manages to deal with the challenges of the present moment.

Of course, at times he gets scared when faced with important decisions.

“This is too big for you,” says a friend.

“Go ahead; be brave,” says another.

And his doubts grow all the more intense.

After a few days of anguish, he retires to the corner of his tent, where he usually sits to meditate and pray. He sees himself in the future. He sees the people who will be benefited and hurt by his attitude. He does not want to cause pointless suffering, but neither does he want to abandon the path.

The warrior then lets the decision manifest itself. If he needs to say yes, he will say it with courage. If he has to say no, he will say it without cowardice. When the warrior assumes responsibility, he keeps his word.

Those who make promises they fail to keep lose self-respect and feel ashamed of their acts. The lives of such people consist in running away. They spend far more energy dishonoring their word than the Warrior of Light uses to keep his promises.

Sometimes, too, he takes on a silly responsibility that will end up in jeopardy. He does not repeat that particular attitude – but even so he honors his word and pays the price for being impulsive.

Of course, he ends up hearing unfavorable opinions. But before he takes heed of anything, he always tries to find out whether the person giving these opinions has ever done work better than his. Generally speaking, those who criticize have never fulfilled their own dream; only the winners are tolerant and generous.

Why do they criticize?

Because for every step the warrior moves forward, the critic remains one step behind. It is hard for him to accept that others are attaining something that he thought was unattainable.

This does not mean that he takes the wrong steps: he will make many mistakes, and that does not matter. Making mistakes is part of the path; correcting mistakes is part of his responsibility.

In order to make fewer mistakes, the warrior rests from time to time and feels happy with the simple things of life. He knows that strings that are always tight eventually become out of tune. Horses that keep on jumping over hurdles eventually break a leg. Bows that bend every day do not fire their arrows with the same strength.

© Translated by James Mulholland

Filed under: Paulo Coelho

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