Being accountable entails being trustworthy, maintaining promises, and following through on our commitments. It is accepting the repercussions of our words and actions. It also entails realizing our full potential. People who are accountable do not make excuses for their behavior or point the finger at others when things go wrong. They take responsibility for their actions.
When you are responsible, you are liable for what you do or fail to do. You can be held responsible even if someone else did the acting. For example, if I break a window with an ice cream cone, I am responsible for the damage because I threw the ice cream cone at the window. Even if someone else broke the window with his hand, I would still be responsible because I caused the damage by throwing the ice cream cone at the window.
People are usually responsible for what they do or fail to do. This means that we share responsibility for our actions. For example, if I hit my friend with my car and kill him, I will be responsible for his death. He too would have been responsible for avoiding being hit by the car.
Sometimes people don't feel responsible for their actions but this is only because they were influenced by drugs or alcohol. If someone doesn't feel responsible then they cannot be held accountable.
We can be held responsible even if we were just a kid when the incident happened.
So a duty is something for which you may be held accountable. Being responsible implies that you feel a moral or ethical commitment to something or someone, which may entail an obligation to act. An obligation is merely a command to do something that has no moral or ethical implications. For example, I have the duty to report crime but not the obligation to prosecute it if I choose not to.
Duties can arise from contracts, relationships, positions of authority etc. If you agree to perform a task then you have a duty to do so. Obligations cannot be enforced by legal action or punishment. They can only be avoided by doing what has been demanded of you.
A responsibility is something that belongs to you, either individually or as part of a group. You might have the responsibility to look after a house, for example, or a child. This means that you are aware of the issue in question and think about how to deal with it effectively. Your actions may not be legal obligations but they still carry weight because others trust you to deal with problems appropriately. For example, I have the responsibility to feed my children but not the obligation because they can't hold me legally responsible for providing for them.
Responsibilities can also arise from positions of authority.
To become a responsible person, one must be able to make conscious decisions and engage in activities that strive to develop oneself and/or benefit others. Above all, a responsible individual accepts the consequences of his or her own actions and decisions. A responsible person also shows concern for others, is loyal, and strives to improve himself or herself.
Responsibility is important because it is the foundation upon which other values are built. Without responsibility, there is no hope of improvement or success because there is no commitment to accomplish anything. There are also connections between responsibility and other traits such as honesty and integrity. Someone who is dishonest will never become responsible; likewise, someone who is not honest cannot be trusted to be responsible with other people's money.
Finally, responsibility is necessary for personal growth because it gives us a chance to learn from our mistakes and move on. Otherwise, we would be forced to live with the same bad habits over and over again forever.
There are two types of responsibility: legal and moral. In law school, we learn about legal responsibilities such as obeying laws and honoring contracts. In ethics class, we learn about moral responsibilities such as helping others and making commitments. In practice, these two types of responsibility often overlap. For example, someone may have a legal duty to work but feel compelled to quit because he or she wants to stay home with their children.