Love Letters to Humans (no. 102) — on Accountability & Grace

Accountability and Contempt are not synonyms. Accountability and Grace are not antonyms.

Holding someone accountable is to hold them capable of answering (responding) to the consequences of their actions. Able to respond: responsible.

Contempt is a disregard for what is so. In our commitment to our ideas about others or ourselves, we may disregard their (or our) innate sovereignty, power, wisdom, humanity, or worthiness. We may disregard their (or our) needs, desires, feelings, boundaries, lived experiences, motivations, limitations, decisions, or commitments.

In moments when we choose to disregard our own or another‘s ability to engage as sovereign, worthy, whole, and capable, we leave ourselves no choice but to avoid, punish, control, or destroy—rather than relate with them about—any difference we find intolerable.

Saying we are holding someone accountable—literally, regarding their sovereignty and ability—while simultaneously disregarding their (un)willingness or (in)ability to do a thing is both a lie and a commitment to dependency and our own suffering.

The dependency loop goes like this: I can’t be okay unless you change, and you can’t or won’t change, so in order for me to be okay, I must force you to change, which you can’t or won’t do. ♾

When we nurture dependency in our partnerships, parenting, work, and politics, we leave less room to cultivate joyful connection, possibility, curiosity, transformation, ritual, mourning, creativity, and play. It’s a repetitive slog, both painful and boring.

Grace is unearned regard—judgment-free consideration for all that we and the other have.

Grace doesn’t stop us from holding ourselves and others accountable nor grant us absolution from responsibility for the fuckery we perpetuate in our personal and collective relationships; it supports us in being present and attentive to what is so, then making decisions to take care of ourselves, our commitments, and our communities accordingly.

Relationship is. Right relationship nourishes.