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Humberto Maturana: 13 Responsibility
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Biosphere, Homosphere, and Robosphere: what has that to do with Business?
Humberto Maturana Romesin and Pille Bunnell

When one of my two sons was about eighteen, he queried me "Father if you are right in what you say, then anything is possible." I said "Yes, of course..." and he continued "Then you could kill your neighbor. Why don't you kill your neighbor?" I answered "I don't want to!" - and he was content.

Just because something is possible, we do not have to do it. There are many things we can imagine but we do not do. We can even imagine that I have machine gun hidden here (in this country one can imagine that). But the fact that I could have a machine gun behind my back does not mean that I have to have it! It depends on what I want. Being able to do something does not mean I have to do it.

I am responsible in the moment in which I act according to whether I want or do not want the consequences of what I do.
Responsibility takes place as an experience when one is aware, of the possible consequences of what one does in relation to other human beings or other circumstances, and one acts according to whether one wants or does not want those consequences.

If I want the consequences, I go on. If I do not want them, I stop. In either case the experience is of responsibility. Someone can ask, "Why did you not do that when you could!" and I can answer "Oh, because I did not want to." Because I did not want the consequences. The consequences are in relation to whatever domain I exist in - and in the homosphere that includes other human beings - so the consequences could be what happens to me, or what happens to someone else, or both. I don't want to kill anybody because of what happens to me and because of what happens to other people.

So responsibility entails awareness, and desire. I am aware of the possible consequences, and I act according to whether or not I desire them. There is a tango, I will not sing it, but I will tell you the last stanza. I call it the tango of responsibility. "Officer, arrest me, for I am criminal. In this suitcase I carry the tresses of my beloved, and the heart of the traitor, who was my friend". This is a responsible criminal, because he is willing to take the consequences of what he did. Responsibility does not mean goodness, it does not mean compliance with agreements, it means that you act with awareness of your wanting and being willing to live the consequences of what you do. What happens is that we are loving animals, so what we desire has to do with our being loving animals!

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