There are certain words that are just plain sexy.
‘Delicious’ is one of those words. So are ‘caress,’ ‘svelte,’ ‘luscious,’ and ‘succulent.’ One of my personal favorites is ‘ecstasy.’ These words are intriguing, beckoning, and desire-provoking words.
Do you know which word is not a sexy word? ‘Responsibility.’
Go on, say it.
It just doesn’t sound as taboo and exciting as ‘rendezvous’ or as enticing as ‘scintillating.’
‘Responsibility’ is a very plain word. It’s not a provocative word like ‘amorous.’ It’s not flashy and beautiful like ‘iridescent.’
It even sounds weighty and serious.
It often has a negative connotation to it. Maybe when you read it, you were reminded of a time you were yelled at or disciplined for not being responsible. Maybe you forgot to take out the trash or to bring in the dog before it rained. Perhaps you left the oven on overnight or the milk sat out on the in the summer heat. Either way, most people don’t stop to think about the word ‘responsible’ in quite the same way they might let their minds wander when they hear a word like ‘sensual.’
Yet ‘responsible’ just might be the sexiest word out there.
Superhero movies are known for their awesome graphics, amazing superpowers, unusual abilities, and great plots. Batman and Superman have long been two of the top iconic superheroes in the history of comics. Why? Because they’re responsible.
“What? That doesn’t make any sense!”
Think about it: would we love Batman if he were a rich miser who didn’t care about Gotham City and used his money to move himself to a safer neighborhood? Nope.
Would we love Superman if when we learned he was an alien we realized he had both the power and the desire to wipe us all off the planet? Not too likely.
What about Spiderman? He could use his spidey senses and ceiling-walking abilities to spy on women in the dressing rooms at department stores. Would he be as awesome then? Not a chance.
We love these superheroes first because they are not supervillains. Kinda makes sense, right? But we love them more because their moral compass balances their powers with a desire to do right by all people. This shows up in scene after scene of them getting involved in dangerous or otherwise inglorious situations where they take responsibility in their community to turn wrongs into rights.
Does Spiderman need to risk getting hurt to rescue people? Is it Batman’s fault people there's a robbery in a convenience store? He loves her, but is he obligated to rescue Lois Lane every time Superman realizes she’s in trouble? The resounding answer to each of these questions is, "No!"
Yet, they do it anyway because they are their “brother’s keeper” and they lead the world around them through responsibility.
Okay, okay, I get it, you think they don't count because they're fictional characters.
Our real-world heroes may not have superhuman abilities, but we champion them because one person really can – and often does – make a great difference. When they refuse to blame others or wait until someone else solves the problem, they become our heroes. We read their books, listen to their podcasts, and memorialize them in our statues and monuments.
They only matter to us because they let others matter to them.
The next time something goes wrong in your personal life or at work, don’t flick your wrist and hope spider silk shoots out, so you can crawl out the window and into a better day.
Step up to the plate and take ownership of what’s going on. It may not be your problem. It may not be your department.
It may not have anything at all to do with you, but you might still be able to make a difference.