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I have struggled with the word responsible since when I was a young boy.

The first time I heard  this word  was from my class teacher in class 3, She was admonishing us not to litter the play ground; “responsible people don’t go around littering”. From this, i understood the word responsible meant  not littering places.

I  grew, became old and joined high school. In high school, one day the the deputy head teacher called me and asked me to tuck in my shirt. He explained  that responsible people do tuck in their shirts. This was different from what i knew and thus a little confusing. But I decided OK, seems responsible people don’t litter and they tuck in their shirts.

I didn’t think that this word will cross my path again, but  it did. One day still in high school, the school principal asked to have a Tet a Tete talk with the big boys; the form threes and fours. In this talk, he advised  that responsible men own up to their mistakes. Teenage pregnancies were at significant rates  at the time and the advice was in this direction. He advised that responsible men own up.They make effort to earn and provide. As i keenly listened i came to note that the word responsible had taken on another meaning.

As an adult I have heard the word responsible thrown in, in a lot of sentences. Sentences that have words like drinking, leadership, corporate and so on.Responsible drinking, responsible leadership, responsible ……  Seems the word means different things at different times.

But seriously what does this word really mean ? After lot’s of consultative discussions with several people, I have agreed on a meaning that ties together all my  previous understandings of the word. To be  responsible is simply to do the right thing or the correct thing at the given time. People and societies differ on what is right.  So seems this word will continue to have different meanings in different places and with different people.

But at least we could agree that if you don’t litter and if you do tuck in your shirt, then you are responsible :).