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The death of personal responsibility

Posted By John Rocker On 07/02/2012 @ 8:14 pm In Commentary,Opinion | No Comments

“Who’s responsible? Whose fault is it? Maybe it’s his – or, wait, I bet it’s probably her fault. No, hold on a minute – it’s got to be their fault. There must be somebody out there for me to blame because I know I’m certainly not responsible. … OK, forget whose fault it is; who’s going to fix it? I can’t do it. Who’s going to fix it for me? What we need is a new law. Yeah, a new law would do it. And then when the same problem still exists we can blame those responsible for enforcing the new law. It’ll be their fault. Certainly not mine!”

It seems that with each passing month – dare I say, each passing day – the ideology of personal responsibility is rapidly becoming an outdated concept in this country. The more observant I become the more awareness I gain regarding the shear deficiency most people seem to have concerning their own accountability. “Do it for me. Please eliminate my propensity for consistently making poor decisions by severely limiting and/or giving me no choices at all.”

This seems to be a growing theme in this country as one looks around and observes the barrage of obnoxious, newfangled government mandates along with a seemingly endless supply of rules, regulations and mind-numbing criteria that appear to be popping up from every corner of our society in an effort to “save people from themselves” – regarding everything from how much salt we should be allowed to have in our food to a state’s expectation of seatbelt use. Just last month, New York City decided it needs to mandate how large your soft drink should be, while Missouri thinks an actual state law must exist deciding when little Johnny can and cannot play high school football.

Be aware, people; be very aware. The “Nanny State” is upon us, and it seems to be getting more invasive by the day. The moderately unfortunate thing, however, is that with the waning level of personal accountability in our country, the “Nanny State” may actually be a necessary evil. To rehash the common expression, “you’re only as strong as you’re weakest link,” the level of “weak links” is at an all-time high in our great nation.

The number of people that simply can’t do it (or more accurately aren’t motivated to “do it”) seems to definitely be on the rise. But which came first, the chicken or the egg? Is the creation of law after law, petty regulation after petty regulation by our federal, state and local officials encouraging the general irresponsibility of the John Q. American citizen, or is the consistent and sometimes glaring deficiency regarding individual responsibility forcing our government to hold our hands like small children?

My opinion, for whatever it’s worth – and I know for many of you that’s not much – is divided precisely down the middle as it relates to the way we are becoming and to a large degree have become a state of dependent individuals. To an ever-growing extent it certainly appears that many in our great nation are becoming more and more content with relying on anyone but themselves. “Where is the government to help me? Why hasn’t a law been put in place to make that decision for me; so I have no choice but to behave responsibly?”

I’m sure I don’t need to point out the obvious, but I’m going to anyway. We have not become the greatest nation this world has ever known on the backs of dependency-minded people. We will, however, become the greatest nation the world has ever seen collapse unless we as a nation, a nation of unique individuals, can once again begin to depend on one single person, and that person is YOU.

For generations now the American individual has been the sharpest mind, the hardest working body and the most resilient spirit to walk this planet. We as a people and a nation filled with those kind of people have survived flood, famine, disaster, disease, economic hardship and violent attack only to rise time and time again. It seems, however, that as the recent years have ticked by, our minds are becoming blunt, our bodies are becoming somewhat weary, and to a moderate degree our resilience is waning. American mantras that have spawned from our national pride, such as “Don’t tread on me” or “I’m the man for the job,” are beginning to be overshadowed by a mindset that seems to say, “Do it for me” or “Will someone please help?”

It’s a gross understatement to simply say that YOU have some monumental problems/ issues/ challenges in YOUR country today. YOU have more than YOUR fair share of conflict and strife as it relates to immigration, foreign policy, racial divides, energy needs and enormous fiscal challenges. YOU as an American have these issues, and YOU as a unique American individual looking to yourself while depending and expecting your fellow American to do the same have the ability to ultimately solve these issues in YOUR individual capacity. We’ve had that ability for generations, and it is my firm belief that we will continue to have for many generations to come the aptitude as individuals to form the many mighty links in an unbreakable chain and sustain the United States of America as the sole name on the list of greatest nations to ever grace this planet. This will only happen, however, if we as a nation of individuals begin to re-accept the fact that at the end of the day the only person responsible for us, is us.

At what point do we stop looking to the politician, to “Big Brother” or “Nanny” to save us from every aspect of our lives? When do we become individually accountable to ourselves for how we raise our kids, eat, work and generally function in our daily lives? When will the tide of our national mentality begin to shift back in the direction of absolute personal responsibility? At what point do we as a society stop expecting the wizard behind the curtain to solve and/or prevent all of life’s problems, thereby making it OK for We the People to behave like morons?

I’ve never given much attention to the various theories of the late evolutionary scientist, Charles Darwin, save one. Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest theory is not so much a theory as it should be simply held as common sense. As it relates to animal nature, human nature or to whatever degree it applies a “nation’s nature,” the strong (however one wants to define strength) will always emerge as the top animal, top man, top woman, top business or top nation standing. Furthermore, I surmise that over the course of past generations it was the acceptance and basic understanding of this somewhat obvious principle that has allowed America to achieve its unprecedented stature on the world stage.

As basic and somewhat obvious as this law of nature sounds, it seems that in our country today we are increasingly attempting to push against this simple yet rigid principle. Whether the application of this theory is in the context of the animal kingdom or our own human environments, those who survive and thrive within any setting always have one thing in common – and that thread is accountability. Responsibility for self and to self must be present for the accomplishment of anything. In my opinion, we as a nation are losing sight of this fact.

Each step in a marathon is equally important, as one by one they all strive for the achievement of the same goal. The first is no more important than the last, and if any one step in between is not taken the end will never be reached. As Americans we all must take on our own seemingly minor responsibilities with a cohesive sense of individual accountability if our great nation is going to stay on course in life’s long marathon.

The dynamics of success and failure exist on many, many levels. They can exist on the national level at an enormous scale; they can exist on a state level to a more moderate degree; they can exist on a corporate level; they can exist on a team level; or they can exist at a community level. But by far the most important level on which success and failure exist is the personal level. Every stage where these two dynamics are present ultimately revolves around the individual. For the sake of you, for the sake of me and for the sake of us, we need to learn to depend on ourselves as individuals once again. The future of our country depends on it.


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