Personal responsibility is the plumb-line that aids us in keeping integrity, authenticity and respect. How? When we feel into our personal responsibility, we are invited to feel how our actions affect others, as well as the natural world. Is that feeling building compassion, hope, love? Or is it hurting, harming, destroying, corrupting? When we abdicate personal responsibility, we are shutting down our hearts, unwilling to feel how our actions affect others. We are stating that we not willing to work to create the Field of Compassion — create for the highest good of all those around. Instead we are creating solely for our own good, no matter the harm it causes in the world.
The Blame Game
Loki, from the world of Thor, is an excellent example of what happens to us and those around if we consistently abdicate personal responsibility and play the ‘blame game.’ What do I mean by the blame game as a way to abdicate responsibility? It means that we are placing the responsibility for our actions outside ourselves on someone or something else. What is happening in my life, in this world, in our community has nothing to do with my actions, it is your fault…
When we play the blame game, we harden our hearts, as Pharoah’s heart is hardened in the Exodus story. We may not even notice it happening. But each time we abdicate responsibility, we build a wall around our hearts. Over time, we become so disconnected from our hearts, from our feeling, that we no longer care about how our actions affect those around us, affect the world. We no longer seek to better ourselves, to serve our community, to work toward justice. We focus solely on our own agenda, whatever the cost to the greater good.
Here are some of Loki’s experiences, examples:
Thor: You wounded me therefore my actions are your fault…
In the first Thor movie, Loki comes across a deep secret that Odin has kept from him — that he is adopted, one of the frost giants. King Odin saved him in hopes of creating an alliance one day, in hopes of Loki being the key to peace. This pain-filled wounding conversation leads to Odin’s collapse and Loki’s temporary rise to the thrown. Loki, determined to prove to his father that he will be a great ruler, does many unethical things and puts all the people of Asgard in danger. In the end, after Thor has saved the people, Loki abdicates any responsibility for his actions by placing them on Odin and Odin’s secret.
Because of this deep wound, this secret that Odin has kept, Loki shuts down his heart. He no longer wants to feel. He let’s go and falls into the abbess. When we meet him later, in Avengers, he is raging and pretty close to pure evil. Abdicating responsibility has allowed his full shadow to come forth.
Avengers: Thor offers a path to redemption
Loki has come to Earth to rule Earth as a benevolent God. He has unleashed evil aliens who are bent on conquering Earth. Thor and Loki are battling as Thor attempts to shut the wormhole Loki opened, allowing the aliens in. Thor asks Loki to stop it. Loki responds that there is no way to stop it. There is only the war. They fight. When Thor gains control he says
Thor: Look at this! Look around you! You think this madness will end with your rule?
Loki: (flash of consciousness, a moment which has you wondering will he take responsibility? then): It’s too late. It is too late to stop it.
Thor: No. (offering Loki the path to redemption) We can together.
Loki responds by stabbing Thor: Sentiment…
Loki's heart is so hardened with rage that any sense of personal responsibility has become sentimentality, weakness. Caring for humanity is beneath him.
Dark World: I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about…
At the beginning of the movie, Loki is brought before his father to be held responsible for his actions on Earth. Odin challenges Loki to take responsibility. Loki responds: “It is not that I don’t love our talks, it’ that I don’t love them.”
l was only doing what I was taught to do…
While Loki is in his cell, his mother Frigga visits. In their conversation Frigga challenges Loki, offering him once again the path to redemption:
Frigga; You know full well it was your actions that brought you here.
Loki: My actions? I was merely giving truth to the lie I have been fed my entire life — I was born to be a King.
Frigga: A King? I true King admits his faults….
At the end of this conversation, something Frigga says begins to create a crack in Loki's armor. He does not let it in, but you can sense and feel its presence -- regret -- regret at what he says to Frigga, not what he has done to land him in his cell. He is so angry about his circumstance that he continues to strike out -- telling the monster Curse "You might want to take the stairs to the left;" leading Curse to his mother and her death.
You are the one who put me there…
Thor helps Loki escape from his imprisonment in return for Loki’s help in getting off Asgard. Upon arrival on the Dark World, in his grief over his mother's death, Loki picks a fight with Thor around whose fault it was. (We all know it is Loki’s.)
Loki: (in a mocking voice) Son of Odin.
Thor: Not just of Odin. You think you alone loved Mother. You had her tricks but I had her trust.
Loki: Trust? Was that her last expression? Trust? When you let her die!
Thor: What help were you in your cell?
Loki: Who put me there? (in rage at Thor) Who put me there?!
Thor: You know who…. (anger in his voice ready for a fight) You know who…. (backing away) She wouldn’t want us to fight.
Loki: (shifting his expression back into trickster-like way of being) Well she wouldn’t exactly be shocked…
To understand how much in this moment Loki abdicates responsibility: It is not just about Loki’s unwillingness to take responsibility for how he got in that cell, but also his responsibility for guiding Curse (the one who kills his mother) on the path to killing his mother. Loki is much more responsible for his mother’s death than Thor. That pain breaks him...
Cost of abdicating responsibility:
Here is the thing with abdicating personal responsibility: It cuts you off from your heart, from your feelings, creating a selfishness and entitlement that is dangerous to the greater good. This in turn blocks your ability to experience the field of Compassion — the one thing you need to experience redemption. Compassion, in the form of forgiveness, must be present for transformational redemption to be experienced: compassion and forgiveness for yourself, as well as, compassion and forgiveness for others. Without it, transformational redemption can not be experienced fully.
So far in Loki’s life he has consistently abdicated personal responsibility. Each time, right before he does so, there is a moment when you think, 'maybe this time Loki will chose the path of redemption.' You see the pain rise within him — the pain he is running from, pushing deep into his shadow — the pain that hardens his heart. There is a conscious awareness right before Loki's choice to abdicate responsibility. Tom Hiddleston (actor playing Loki) conveys that powerfully and subtly with his eyes, his facial expressions, and silence.
Each time he abdicates responsibility, he steps deeper into darkness, further from Light. Loki does so in an attempt to increase his power, but ends up giving it away. Power is reclaimed through personal responsibility. Abdicating, gives power away, creating a victim-mindset that spirals one downward until you lose yourself, hit rock bottom. Loki experienced this moment in his cell, after his mother's death.
Abdicating responsibility in your life not only harms others, but it harms you most of all. Numbing oneself from the truth and hiding takes away that which makes you You. It disconnects you from your soul and spirit. It distances you from the real truth: that you are a child of God, a spark of Light in this world, that you contain within yourself the power to heal yourself, as well as offer healing to those around you.
The Way to Redemption
The only way back toward justice is the path of personal responsibility, repentance, atonement, and redemption.
Loki attempts to reach redemption. (I’ll write more about that later.) Yet, he is unable to truly experience it because he is not willing to step onto the path of personal responsibility. He is not willing to do the work required to experience redemption. He wants it free of responsibility. He wants redemption, but he does not want to change his ways. He wants what he wants with no cost to himself. That is not redemption.
Will Loki take the path of personal responsibility to redemption? Will his heart be cracked open enough so that he feels his actions? Is Loki willing to repent and change his ways?
No one but Loki can decide that for himself. No one but the person who is abdicating responsibility can make that decision for him/herself.
All we can do is hope and continue to offer those abdicating responsibility the opportunity to step onto the path of redemption, while we, ourselves, continue to deepen our own expression of personal responsibility — setting an example, lighting the way!
If we want to experience the Field of Compassion here on Earth, we must create it together through the path of personal responsibility toward redemption and justice.
Sometimes it helps to have a guide when you step onto the path of personal responsibility. As a spiritual director, I work one and one with people seeking to deepen their connection with Spirit and move into a more authentic expression of themselves. I do this in person, as well as distance through Zoom. Contact me if you would like support as you seek to move into a place of healing and wholeness.
Pastor Jocelyn Emerson weaves together her training as a Light and Energy worker, Reiki master, spiritual director, and Pastor with her life experience as a mystic and contemplative to offer a space of trust, safety, and honesty to support you on your life's journey.