Rights and Responsibilities

By | January 19, 2023

[January 19, 2023]  In our modern world, we are constantly fed a diet of rights and impulsive freedoms and have done so for so long that there is starvation for the other side of the story.  Since the 1960s, all we’ve had is a singular dialogue about “rights.”  In fact, there are no “rights” without corresponding responsibilities.

This ongoing conversation about rights has left a large hole in an important discussion.  In “responsibility, “most people find the meaning that sustains them through life.  And meaning is not found in happiness or the pursuit of impulsive pleasure.  Those things go away at the first signs of trouble in our lives.

To adopt responsibility for your own well-being, to try to put together your family, to try to serve your community, and try to seek eternal truths and live them is the sort of thing that grounds you in your life.  By adopting responsibility, only then can you withstand life’s difficulties – tragedies and malevolence –.

Yet, when we forthrightly tell people that life is about adopting responsibility (including yourself in it and not from waving your finger in a superior way), everyone knows it to be true.  Failure to tell the story of responsibility is tough on men, especially on young men, but also on young women.

It is helpful for people to hear that they should make themselves competent and strong and take their proper place in the world.  Being competent and strong is the alternative to being weak, and being weak is not good.  Murderers, rapists, and violent criminals are weak, very weak, so the solution is to be a formidable person.  Life is a difficult process; the solution is to be as strong as possible.

That doesn’t mean you should be cruel; it doesn’t mean that at all.  There’s a statement in the New Testament, “The meek shall inherit the Earth.”  But the word “meek” is not well translated.  It means something more like those who have swords and know how to use them but keep them sheathed will inherit the world.  That’s a way better way of thinking about it.

You have to be competent and powerful, and then peaceful and in that order.  That is not the same as being naïve and weak and harmless, which young men are encouraged to be.  That’s a terrible idea because naïve, weak, and harmless means you cannot withstand the terrible things in life.  You cannot bear any responsibility.

If you remain naïve, weak, and harmless, you will end up bitter, and then you will get out of control and dangerous.  Moreover, don’t treat people like infants (weak and incompetent) because the world is dangerous.  This is a harsh lesson.

We should be competent and strong.  That is how we remain responsible.  We must be dangerous, but we must also be able to control that dangerous side of us voluntarily.  There is nothing to you otherwise.  If you’re incapable of violence, not being violent is not a virtue but only a weakness in the face of a true menace.

It is the ability to bring competence and strength and your dangerous self under control.  That is what brings about virtue.  Otherwise, you will confuse weakness with moral virtue.  And if you are weak, you cannot be good.

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Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

23 thoughts on “Rights and Responsibilities

  1. Hal

    Personally, I think this is the key paragraph to quote. I know others have quoted Gen. Satterfield, but this one is the best:
    “It is the ability to bring competence and strength and your dangerous self under control. That is what brings about virtue. Otherwise, you will confuse weakness with moral virtue. And if you are weak, you cannot be good.”

    Reply
    1. KenFBrown

      Right and exactly why I’m a regular here in the forums too. I know you’ve been here before and know the value of reading these articles but also the comments. Comment more and get your friends to read this blog on how to make yourself a better person by adopting responsibility and pursuing the truth.

      Reply
        1. KRause

          Yessir, and I’m new here and having a great time reading these comments.

          Reply
  2. Linux Man

    “Moreover, don’t treat people like infants (weak and incompetent) because the world is dangerous.” Gen. Satterfield, and I will add that if you do make people weak and incompetent, regardless of your reasoning, you are a gross failure to the human race.

    Reply
  3. Veronica Stillman

    I think most of us understand what Gen. Satterfield is saying here in his “rights and responsibilities” blog posting. The part that separates the successful in life folks from the failures is their ability to grasp this quickly and integrate it into our selves. Otherwise you will be naive and weak and that will not work out too well.

    Reply
    1. Pumpkin Spice

      Jerome, you’re right, of course, but we can learn lessons also from others and the first step is being strong enough to realize you must look to others for the bests lessons in life. Others have paved the way and learned the hard way, thru the most difficult of circumstances. Learning from them is no vice but the first step in having a good, valued disposition.

      Reply
      1. Yusaf from Texas

        Thank you Jerome and stay the course, because most will not and they will claim some kind of “victim status” because that is how they see themselves (propped up by Hollywood celebrities and leftist politicians). Perpetual victimhood is a terrible life strategy.

        Reply
        1. Fred Weber

          — and exactly why Gen. S. recommends against this course of action.

          Reply
  4. Ayn Jālūt

    Bless General Satterfield for his push for stronger people who adopt heavy responsibilities.

    Reply
  5. Scotty Bush

    If you don’t learn the harsh lessons of life – like being strong and competent – then u are screwed. So many people are not just blind to the world but are willfully blind. That is sad because they are failures to themselves and their families.

    Reply
    1. Liz at Home

      Hi Scotty, yes, and I think this is a common theme here in Gen. Satterfield’s leadership forum. What we should be concerned about is the solution.

      Reply
      1. JT Patterson

        That is what we are all doing, and I will also note if you are looking for details on how to be stronger and more competent, then read Gen. S’s book “55 Rules for a Good Life” and you will be happy you did.

        Reply
  6. Rowen Tabernackle

    “It is helpful for people to hear that they should make themselves competent and strong and take their proper place in the world. Being competent and strong is the alternative to being weak, and being weak is not good. Murderers, rapists, and violent criminals are weak, very weak, so the solution is to be a formidable person. Life is a difficult process; the solution is to be as strong as possible.” – Gen. Doug Satterfield and his best blog yet that gets to the heart of being a good person and having a good life.

    Reply
  7. Silly Man

    Make my head spin ,,,,,, Gen. Satterfield has some really good thoughts here and I offer my thanks to him for them. Great work, keep it up.

    Reply

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