One of the essential qualities of a person is taking responsibility. This is the first lesson the Torah teaches us at the beginning of Genesis, concluding how fundamental this measure is to man. After the first man ate from the tree of knowledge and God proved him wrong, Adam rolled the responsibility onto Eve, and Eve turned it on the serpent. That rolling of responsibility leads God to address the first man in the term “Where art thou.” It is not that God did not know where man was, but this question required him to take responsibility in turning to Where is your personality? Where are you?
Today, we face a significant political, social, economic, and identity crisis overwhelming our society. We are exposed to politicians, media outlets, religious leaders, and even public authorities who refuse to take responsibility for Israel’s sad and painful situation. No “grown-up” is willing to take responsibility for our lack of governability that intensified our social rift in the last two years up to various government infrastructures that do not serve the public faithfully.
But most of all, I blame myself and my generation. We hold the responsibility to promote and lead change. The last time someone from the younger generation has taken social responsibility was during 2011 at the social protest. Daphni Leef, as a 25-year-old young woman, took responsibility and swept away hundreds of young people fed up with the economic, social, and political uncertainty and chose to protest against the painful reality. “The social protest” raised social awareness, placed it first in the public agenda, and even led to a change in the government.
However, although most of the challenges remain, some even intensified, since then, none of us has taken responsibility for making a change. The economic gap is expanding every year as the dream of achieving a domicile certainty is drifting further away, as for our financial insecurity. Our social split is painful than ever, even after an epidemic that shook us all and reminded us that we are all pretty much the same- None of us are irritated or responsible enough to hit the streets and try to make a change. None of us are standing up, willing to take the lead, putting politicians aside, and try to mend our broken reality. None of us are shouting: “Here I am.”
The mythological leader, Moshe Rabbeinu, who led our ancestors out of slavery to freedom, was not charismatic, tall, and impressive. He was a simple, stuttering man that took responsibility for the injustice he saw. He was the first who shouted, “Here I am.” Moses did not plan to lead; he just took responsibility and acted — an act of leadership for a private purpose that shaped our future as a nation. Moshe’s leadership teaches that each of us, regardless of our abilities or status, can lead. All we have to do is take responsibility. As long as we take responsibility and act accordingly, others will follow, and we will find ourselves leading. When looking at those who led significant changes, their leadership was based on the responsibility they took, from Moses up to Daphni Leef.
If leadership is truly a product of taking responsibility, it may explain the leadership crisis we are experiencing and why many of us are refraining from leading. Taking responsibility is a demanding task that can even prove risks due to the uncertain price involved and where that responsibility will lead to. No wonder we hide behind keyboards, shouting in front of the TV on Friday nights, or just convince ourselves that we do not have “what it takes” to lead. These are good excuses to avoid taking responsibility, allowing us to stay in our comfort zone and continue to be victims of the situation. But we, as the future generation, cannot agree to continue to be victims of the circumstances.
I demand from my generation to take responsibility for our democratic future. We must ensure that the state is in the best hands and must act together in the face of the injustice we see and take responsibility.
We must remember Moses’ lesson about leadership. Leadership begins when we take responsibility while we are exposed to injustice – so the next time you are exposed to such a situation, whether it is politically, socially, or economically, remember that you have the responsibility to change and lead regardless of status, experience and political opinion — just act. If we all start acting in our immediate surroundings, we will begin a powerful social wave stronger than any protest or posts flooding Twitter. We will lead a social change from within, return the power and influence to our hands, and preserve our democratic state where the emphasis is on the people.
On the 14th of July, it will be ten years since the 2011 “Social protest” outbreak. Today, ten years later, I think it is our turn to bring the change.