The Healing Power of Moral Responsibility

One day in the early summer of 2009 when I was about to park my car by the roadside at Keziekie, a black santro car parked a little ahead suddenly started coming towards my car in the reverse gear. I could not figure out what the driver was up to. “Was he drunk?” or “has he gone out of his mind?” The car was coming backwards towards my car at great speed and it showed no sign of slowing down and so I realized I had to do something fast and quick. So I started to honk my car repeatedly and continuously to alert the senseless driver but it was of no use. I even tried to back up my car but could not do so as there were cars behind me. And so it happened finally – the black santro car coming backwards rammed into the front left side of my car and crushed and damaged the left front door.  

I came out of my car angry and fully geared up to confront the crazy driver. When we came face to face, I could see and smell that he was drunk but he refused to admit his wrongdoing. This further aggravated the situation. However, another person came out from the santro car and pleaded with me that there was no point in arguing and told me to talk to the elder brother of the driver and he gave me his number. At first I didn’t want to do that as I wanted to settle the matter there and then. Moreover I saw no point in talking to a person who was not a witness to the incident. But since a small crowd had already gathered there by then and since I didn’t want to create a scene unnecessarily, I unwillingly took the number and left the spot.  

It was highly probable that the two youths might have given a bogus number of a non-existent person. However, later in the evening, when I dialed the number, I learnt that I was not cheated. The voice on the other end talked politely and even said that he had already been apprised about the incident by his brothers. He gave me his address and we agreed to meet at his place the following morning. The next morning I drove my crushed car to the address given because I thought he might be interested to see the damage done to the car. I met the elder brother but he did not even bother to have a look at the car. Rather he straightaway apologized on his brother’s behalf and told me that he would pay the amount needed to repair the car. At this I said I would first repair the car and give him the cash memo. But the courteous and gentle elder brother asked me how much it might cost to repair the car. I had no idea about this but just to be on the safe side I said it might cost anywhere between Rs.7000 to Rs.10,000. At this, the guy went inside a room, came out and placed Rs.10000 on my hand.  

This was how a volatile situation which could have assumed a very ugly and strenuous color was settled amicably without any hard feelings. This was able to end like this because the elder brother took upon himself the moral responsibility of the wrong done by the younger brothers. Even though I was really hurt, mad and angry at the two youths, I was able to forgive and forget the episode because of the moral responsibility taken up by their brother. The elder brother was not driving the car that day, he was not even present at the accident spot, he also did not bother to ask about the sequences of the accident, he also did not bother to look at the damage done to my car, he also did not wait for me to provide the cash memo but he probably knew that his brother had done wrong and damage and he took upon himself the moral responsibility. This is what owning moral responsibility does. It can heal broken hearts, restore relationships and mitigate anger, tension and conflict.  

Some years back there was a huge public outcry when the security personnel of a Naga VIP were involved in slapping a college lecturer right in the middle of the street. Many protested against the highhandedness of the security personnel but the Naga VIP neither showed up nor uttered any regrets over the incident. To this day, I still don’t know who this VIP was because his name, face and designation were never revealed in the public domain. It is really a discomfort to know that we live in a society where the VIPs at the top of our administrative machinery do not take the moral responsibility of the wrongs committed by the people directly under their command.  

If only people at the helms of affairs learn to take the moral responsibility for the acts of commissions and omissions perpetuated by them or the people directly working under them, there would be much more understanding, healing, forgiveness, restoration and peace in our society. If a driver becomes involved in an accident which has caused casualty or damage to property, the owner of the car automatically becomes morally responsible even if he was not driving the car or was not in the car or was not at the accident site. Likewise, when tenants staying in rented houses are found to be involved in anti-social activities, the house-owner becomes morally responsible and answerable for harboring such anti-social elements in his house. Even if the house-owner was actually unaware of the characters, professions or past lives of his tenants, the public and the society will still demand answer and explanation from him for harboring such people in his house. This is why it is really important nowadays for house-owners to be cautious when renting out their houses.  

Similarly when an unmarried girl or woman becomes pregnant, the society will look at her with scorn and ask who the father is. In such situations, the honour of the unwed pregnant lady and her family are totally placed at the mercy of the guy who impregnated her. If the guy happens to be a person with moral conscience and accepts that it was his doing, then certainly some sorts of healing, peace and restoration can come about. And if the guy can own the moral responsibility for the whole ignominy and go a step further by saying that he would marry the girl and own and rear up the child, then certainly forgiveness, healing and restoration can come to all concerned even though there might have been anger, shame, un-forgiveness and tensions at the beginning. This is what owning moral responsibility can do. It can heal broken hearts, build bridges, restore broken relationships and heal society at large. Today our society is full of hatred, anger, un-forgiveness, frustration and tensions because many are not willing to own the moral responsibility when it matters.  

The sense of owning moral responsibility is what makes us human beings different from animals. Animals have no shame and sense of moral responsibility. They just live and go by their instincts. But we human beings are created in the moral image of God and so we are morally responsible to God and our fellow-beings for all our acts of omissions and commissions. And so if we do not know how to take up moral responsibility for our utterances and acts of commission and omission, we are not fit to live in society or to be called as human beings. And such irresponsible, adamant and arrogant persons should rather straightaway retire to the jungles to live with the animal kingdom.  

One may be a King, a Maharaja or a VVIP occupying the highest public office in one’s country or state. But if one is a true human being with a living conscience, he is not supposed to shy away from his moral responsibilities and obligations. Moreover, today we live in the age of democracy where the leaders are directly responsible to the people. The days of Kings and Maharajas who despotically ruled over their subjects are long over. The concept and practice of ‘welfare state’ is a guiding principle of democracy. So the sense of moral responsibility of the present day democratic leaders should be much more higher and stronger than those despotic leaders of the bygone eras. So when your own security personnel guarding your mansion were involved in a firing incident which ended the precious lives of young unarmed people, you become morally responsible and answerable. Rather than harping on the support of your MLAs or your constitutional obligations, you are supposed to own the moral responsibility and do whatever is necessary to restore peace, healing, forgiveness and normalcy. If you do that, your people may forgive you and give you another chance. But until and unless you do that, healing, peace, restoration and forgiveness cannot come and you will be remembered by the present and future generation as a traitor with no moral conscience who loves his chair more than the lives of his people.  

Now let me conclude by reciting the greatest story of ‘Moral Responsibility’ ever known to mankind. God created everything in the universe. Then He created Man in His own image to be a source of joy and happiness to Him. Yes, simply out of his love and power, God created man and woman and placed them in the beautiful garden where everything was beautiful, perfect and pure. He commanded man to be the master of all creations. But sin crept into the heart of man and he rebelled against his creator by disobeying Him. After the first man and woman rebelled against God by eating the forbidden fruit, God had no other option but to chase them away from the garden.  

But even after man was chased away, God’s love for us was so great that He wanted to give us another chance to come back to Him. And to do this, God decided to take upon Himself the ‘Moral Responsibility’ for all our sins and inequities. This is why God became flesh and blood and was born into the world 2000 years ago and dwelt amongst us and took upon Himself the moral responsibility of all our sins and iniquities and died on a Roman cross. Yes, Christ is God and He knew no sin and He was sinless and unblemished. But in order to bring healing, restoration, forgiveness and reconciliation between God and man, Christ took upon himself the moral responsibility for all our sins and shed his precious blood and even gave up his life to redeem us and make us righteous again. Christ the creator knew no sin but He took upon Himself the moral responsibility for all our sins and died for us because there was no other way through which forgiveness, healing, peace and restoration could come. And so if our Creator God Himself took upon Himself the ‘Moral Responsibility’ for our sins and died for us, are we also not supposed to do the same to restore peace, healing and forgiveness in our society? Yes, we exhibit God’s nature and God’s love the most when we take upon ourselves the ‘Moral Responsibility’ for all our acts of commission and omission …But today, in many ways, our society and many of our families and relationships lie in tatters because we don’t take the moral responsibility for our acts of commission and omission…….