81. What ‘being responsible’ means is given in the paradigm of the parent-child relationship. I think it really is the standard case. A child teaches the parent what it is to be necessary to someone, not in some speculative abstract sense, but in the meaning of it as reinforced by sheer experience day in, day out in the care and upbringing of the child. ‘The child is totally dependent on me’, the parent observes. And there it is: necessity. The whole gravity of it as contained in the face of the infant, who now looks at me.

To be necessary to someone is to live a meaningful life. To choose to be necessary to someone is something yet greater and more powerful.

A person may expend all of his energy on himself, on his daily woes and have none remaining for others. Such persons are merely ‘normal’. They are legion.  

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