Power without responsibility has been devastating in history – it has led to disasters and brought suffering to millions. Under certain circumstances and conditions, the powerful can bring about disaster for all.
A Notable Example of the Avoidable Consequences of the Irresponsible Use of Power Was World War II
A good example of the avoidable consequences of the irresponsible use of power is World War II. The war was completely senseless and avoidable and resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of innocent people around the world.
Primarily, Hitler’s lust for territory and power drove the world into a disastrous war.
Lack of International Cooperation
Although many things led up to World War II, one of the most important factors was the lack of international cooperation after World War I.
The world is more dangerous when powerful nations distrust each other. History has shown time and again that peace is achieved through cooperation, not aggression.
The world is a more peaceful place when everyone is acting together.
The war was a man-made disaster of unimaginable proportions, with senseless destruction and loss of life at all levels. The suffering caused by the war is undeniable, and perhaps the greatest tragedy is how unnecessary it all was.
During World War II More Than 60 Million People Died
Fought principally in Europe, the war cost the lives of over 60 million people globally – 3 percent of the pre-war population. Russia suffered catastrophic losses: estimates range from 8 million up to 27 million. China suffered equivalent losses.
Many civilians died as well. The evil of the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazi regime, has entered the grimmest annals of human history. As the battle lines spread across several fronts, Europe, Asia, and Africa also suffered greatly.
The carnage of World War II was unprecedented in human history.
By the end of the war, the European economy had collapsed and about 70% of the industrial infrastructure had been destroyed.Wikipedia
America also was deeply impacted by the war. Nobody has the exact figures, but the best estimate is around 420,000 Americans died.
Geopolitics and Global Impacts Are a Collective Responsibility
The government’s job is to protect its citizens. Governments also have a collective responsibility for all our welfare.
Likewise, we know it’s their job to protect our environment, our economy, and even their national security.
But war and major events aren’t just a government responsibility, it’s a collective responsibility.
Humanity’s Current Struggle Against Carbon Emissions and Climate Change
A second important example of power without responsibility is humanity’s current struggle with carbon emissions and climate change. It’s clear that a desire to reduce our impact on the earth’s climate has long existed among some people, but not all.
As an environmental and economic issue, global warming isn’t just an abstract concept that affects no one.
The consequences of climate change on our planet are already evident in the form of natural disasters and rising sea levels.
The impact on human life is felt in the form of poverty and food shortages due to droughts and other weather conditions. Global warming could potentially bring about the end of humanity by literally destroying a survivable environment.
The climate crisis is one of the biggest problems facing humanity today, and yet this issue is pushed aside by politicians around the world. It’s not surprising that so many people are concerned, given the evidence of scientific research. The critical thing will be whether policymakers fully shoulder responsibility in the coming years.
Industrialized Countries Have Been Responsible for 78 Percent of All Emissions
Sure, you may say, but it’s not like developed countries have acted in a responsible way with their emissions.
According to Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data
CO2 emissions have increased by about 90% since 1970, with emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes accounting for about 78% of the total increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 1970 to 2011.US EPA
Humanity needs to do a better job of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
It was understandable that some countries emitted higher carbon dioxide emissions earlier last century before the risk was clear. But now that the risk is crystal clear, and the problem of climate change growing by the day, it’s irresponsible for all countries not to act together.
Instead of arguing about who is most responsible, we should work together to reduce our collective impact on the environment – while respecting the sovereignty and rights of individual countries. But we have a long way to go, and not much time to sort it out.
The Responsibility for the Environment Is Also Ours
As a society, we’ve relied on the government to protect us from ourselves. But unless we start taking personal responsibility for climate change – our own individual responsibility – we’ll fail to protect future generations.
When thinking about environmental issues, start with yourself: look at your life and figure out where you can make positive changes. Maybe that means finally switching to LED light bulbs or buying bamboo toothbrushes. Maybe it means switching to greener products like shampoo and clothing or avoiding fast fashion altogether by buying secondhand clothes. Maybe it also means supporting better practices at your favorite brands.
As an individual, you also have a moral responsibility to avoid increasing the negative impact on the planet and the species that live on it. For example, you can educate yourself about fossil fuels and renewable energy, and also support developing countries, because after all, we all live on the same circular territory.
The good news is that in the 21st century, it’s easier for an American citizen, someone from Western Europe, or from a wealthy country to contribute to the world’s critical infrastructure because we’ve access to information about the climate crisis and we know that each and every one of us has the power to make these changes happen – and together we’re even stronger.
We don’t always have to wait for others who may never stand up for us; we can change our lives now instead of waiting for tomorrow, when it may already be too late for future generations to solve the climate crisis and save our species.
As we continue our fight against carbon emissions and climate change, we must remember that the development and use of technology don’t always benefit all of humanity. Although many see technological progress as inevitable and even beneficial to humanity, we must remain vigilant to ensure that this progress isn’t to our own detriment.
The Moral Responsibility and Power of Developed Nations
Protecting civilians is a moral responsibility and an imperative. Although these assumptions may seem self-evident and widely accepted, they aren’t. Some governments act in ways that disregard their moral responsibility to protect civilians.
The Primary Responsibility of Any Government Is to Protect Civilians
Governments should act proactively to prevent harm to their citizens, and they should prevent human rights abuses even if it means sacrificing economic growth to do so. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine was developed by scholars and adopted by policymakers to try to enforce these obligations on states. The R2P doctrine recognizes the primacy of national sovereignty, but also requires that countries place the moral norms of protecting civilians above their own self-interest.
There’s Always Been a Social Contract Between People and Their Governments
In a sense, there’s always been a social contract between people and their governments. The government stays in power by providing for the people; the people, in turn, agree to cooperate with their government. Of course, it’s not that simple, but you get the idea.
The exact nature of this social contract varies from country to country and region to region, but they all have one thing in common: they believe that power should come with responsibility.
In Ideal Democracies, Citizens Hold Their Governments Accountable
In ideal democracies, citizens hold their governments accountable. The ability to influence political decisions is a central democratic principle. Citizens can participate in the political process through voting and elections, but also through civic engagement and political activism.
For example, you can evaluate your representatives’ performance on the issues that matter most to you and use that information to decide whether or not to vote for them in the next election. You can also write letters to your representatives or talk to them on the phone to express your opinion on important public issues.
In Turn, the Government Must Also Live Up to This Responsibility
Governments have an obligation to be:
The Government Should Ensure That Every Citizen Can Enjoy a High Standard of Living
The standard of living is the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of a country. It refers to their material well-being, their security, their health and well-being, their education, their recreational and leisure opportunities, their political freedom, and their participation in civil society.
It’s important for governments to ensure a high standard of living for their citizens because it makes people feel good about their lives and live longer and happier; it also motivates them to participate in society, for example, by volunteering and providing financial assistance to those who’ve less than you. When people are satisfied with their lives and able to contribute to society through community service or financial generosity to others who’re struggling financially or in other ways, that’s the recipe for a healthy community!
A successful way for governments to ensure that all citizens have a high standard of living is to create programs such as:
- a universal health care system
- tuition subsidies
- affordable housing
- affordable child care
- job training programs
- food banks (for citizens, who’re temporarily struggling with hunger)
- credit counseling services (for those temporarily struggling with financial problems)
- legal counseling services (for those temporarily struggling with legal problems)
- support groups, or access to mental health professionals (for those temporarily struggling with emotional/mental problems)
This Also Includes Basic Human Rights Such as Food, Shelter, Health Care, and Education
All states have a duty to protect and care for their civilian populations. This includes basic human rights such as food, shelter, health care, and education. These are things we all need to survive and cannot live without. Without them, we’d die. Some governments don’t take care of their citizens and that’s not fair or right.
Governments Need to Provide Critical Infrastructure to Support the Economy
There are many ways governments can support the economy. One of them is to provide infrastructure. Infrastructure is the basic equipment a country needs to function. This includes roads, bridges, railroads, airports, and communication systems. Without these things, it would be much harder for people to get around and do business.
Other important forms of infrastructure include energy systems like power plants and water systems. The government also builds schools and hospitals so people can learn new skills and get medical care when needed.
Related: Why Schools Are Important
Just as you need supplies to do your homework or prepare for your soccer game on Saturday, countries need infrastructure to achieve their economic goals.
A Country’s Political Structure Can Affect Whether or Not It Meets Its Moral Obligations
The path to fulfilling moral obligations isn’t always clear. When it comes to protecting citizens, a government’s political structure plays a crucial role. A democratic government will usually (though not always) protect its citizens better than an authoritarian form of government such as an absolute monarchy or dictatorship.
This is because rulers in this type of government are never held accountable by their people and therefore have little motivation to ensure that the needs of their subjects are met.
When you live in a democracy, you have the most power over the actions of your government because you can elect the government that will fulfill the moral obligations of your country.
When a Government Fails to Fulfill Its Moral Responsibility
When an American citizen or a citizen of a western country feels that the government isn’t serving them, they’ve many opportunities to take action. He or she can vote, go on strike and make his voice heard. Citizens from democratic countries can use their freedom of speech to draw attention to a problem or join together in a peaceful protest. In a democratic state, people participate in elections and choose who’ll represent them in government.
Governments Have a Moral Obligation to Take Care of Their Citizens When They’ve Power Over Them
Humans have an innate need for freedom, and yet we’re also interdependent. Each of us needs vital goods and services such as food, shelter, health care, and education to survive and thrive. This is the basis of our moral obligation to each other; it’s in the interest of all citizens that we respect each other’s rights to these basic goods and services.
In order for a government to fulfill its role of protecting the rights of its citizens, it must provide key infrastructures to support the economy and society. These include:
- Security: including defense against external threats.
- Government services: such as roads, schools, and hospitals
- Electrical energy: in terms of access to a stable supply of electricity
- Financial system: such as banking and monetary policy management.
We as civilians also have a responsibility and power, not just the government
Citizens Who Care
As a citizen of your country, you have the power to change things. You may think that you’re insignificant in your country’s political system, but that’s not true. There are many ways you can make a difference and influence how your government works and what it does.
Social media has become a huge platform for people to voice their opinions and start movements. Protests are also very useful. They may seem useless at first glance, but they have an impact on the government’s decision-making and indirectly influence its policies.
Going to the polls is another way people can influence politics because politicians are concerned about satisfying voters if they want to stay in office or be elected in the next term. Also, candidates and political parties that get more votes get more seats in the legislature of our government; therefore, you can use your vote to influence the way our government works by giving certain parties more power than others. All of these different opportunities help citizens shape their country’s politics and government, so they should take advantage of them if they want to make a difference or have their voices heard!
The Point Is That We as Citizens Have a Great Impact on the World, Perhaps More Than We Think
So that’s what I mean when I say that as a citizen, you aren’t powerless. The government isn’t the only force with power and responsibility in this world.
You as a consumer and a human being have power too – you can use your economic clout to send signals to corporations about their environmental practices. If enough people unite against companies that don’t prioritize sustainability, those companies will have no choice but to listen or risk falling behind.
The simple truth is that we’re all connected – one person’s actions affect millions of others, for better or worse, and we must take responsibility for our collective impact on this world.