The Weight of Responsibility

This past week off was so great. It is a little hard to be back on campus and getting back into the swing of things. Also, even though I was on spring break, I did not get much of a “break”. I was up early most days and I often had things to do. Now, it is definitely catching up with me. I live for the weekends so I can actually sleep in, although it does not usually work.

Anyway, blog post for the day. I honestly was not sure what I wanted to write about today, but I figured I could talk about something interesting going on in my life.

So in my Honors class, my professor decided to have us do something new for about a third of the semester. We are doing a reenactment of sorts of the trial of Galileo. I will admit, I was skeptical at first, but this has turned into an amazing exercise for our class. Allow me to explain:

There are three factions. The Conservatives believe Galileo is guilty of heresy and should be condemned as such. The Linceans believe that Galileo is correct in his model of the universe and that he is not guilty of heresy. The Moderates stand somewhere in the middle (hence the name). They believe Galileo is correct, but they do not think he should be endorsed by the Catholic Church and should be given a minor punishment, as if to say “You’re correct, but you went about it in the wrong way.” Then there are three others, called Indeterminates. They do not have any loyalties to any particular faction and are the ultimate deciders of whether or not Galileo is guilty.

I am one of the Indeterminates, so I have a specific role as Cardinal Dalatier (that’s my character) and am partly in charge of making the decision for or against Galileo. That is a lot of pressure on me and the two other Indeterminates. However, there is also something specific to my character. I am basically the letter-writer. I am to write a letter after each session (class) and I must write a letter to each faction.  There are also two phases to this game (as it is called). We are still in the first phase, but in the second, we elect a new pope (the current pope is our professor). However, to win the papacy, you have to have a patron credit. When we first started this whole section, the factions took a quiz over some historic document readings we had to do; the faction with the most right answers would get a patron credit. Well, as Indeterminates we do not have any other loyalties, so we took the quiz as the three of us. We ended up winning the patron credit. However, none of us really need it because we are already Cardinals and to my knowledge, do not desire to be the new pope. I know that is randomly inserted, but it is definitely a part of my character’s role. I mentioned that I have to write a letter to each faction. Well, as I have no use for the patron credit, I have offered it to all three factions with the same condition. If you could not tell by his name, my character is French. As such, I cannot have someone who is in league with Spain as the pope because I fear that the new pope would be a servant to Emperor Philip III instead of the Church. That is my character’s personal objective that I must fulfill.

The three weeks we have undertaken for this game so far have been an experience. My Honors class this semester is a second in a sequence. I took the first class in the sequence last semester, as did most of my classmates. There are twenty-three of us in that class, and nineteen of us (including myself) were in the same class last semester. So we all basically know each other. And the four people who were not in our class last semester are all dispersed throughout the factions, so there is no “favoritism” or specific familiarity in any particular faction’s favor.

However, since the majority of us have known each other since last August, we know how some of the others think, act, and speak; consequently, we also know how to debate with them. I know that makes this class interesting, but these debates can get really intense (and they have).

This brings me to why I titled this post “The Weight of Responsibility.” As one of three Indeterminates, I am one of the decision-makers of the trial and its outcomes. My natural instinct is to reach a compromise all groups can be satisfied with; however, in this particular case, I do not think that will be the case. Consequently,  I must make a decision that will upset some people. My goal is to offend the least amount of people possible and make the wisest decision as a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. This then puts a massive responsibility on my shoulders. I need to make the “right” decision to the best of my ability, but I also would prefer to appease the multitude.

Even though this is just a game, it is good for all parts of life. Before I make any big decisions, I weigh the pros and cons and try to see it from both sides. I do not know about any of you, but when I am facing a big decision, it is often the only thing on my mind. I will think about other things as they come up. However, once those pass, my mind will go back to the big decision. There are times I will make the decision, and I will not feel any better about it either way. But there are also times I will make the decision, and I will feel instant relief in knowing that I made the right decision. Either way, whatever decision I make, I then have to live with the consequences. Sometimes things turn out exactly the way you planned/hoped, but oftentimes they do not. You cannot take back a decision, no matter how bad you wish to. Life is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book: if you do not like the ending, you cannot go back and start again to find something better. It is up to you to take responsibility for your actions and decisions. That is a weight you must always bear; and you usually bear it alone. What you decide is totally up to you, but it is not up to you to run away from the responsibility and consequences of your decision. You may try to outrun them, and for a while it will work. But then one day, they will catch up to you. The weight of responsibility is how happy or sad a decision makes you and living with such, knowing that that is a weight that you will never lose.

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