Tuesday, February 12, 2008

take some responsibility

I see it often in my own generation. It's the inability to take responsibility for one's actions. We, as a generation of people, play the victim. We pretend like "life happened to us" all the time. We refuse to believe the truth that, most of the time, our decisions have created the life in which we live. We do what we want to do. We essentially are who we have set out to be.

But we, Americans particularly, want to blame other people, other systems and other circumstances as the chief cause of the problems in our lives. We are like the Greeks who were always simultaneously blaming and yet trying to appease the "fates." It's the product of a deterministic world-view that has been wed to an extreme case of self-obsession. This is the ugly step-child which has become so pervasive in our American culture.

Some examples of this have come up during this election cycle. We Americans are some of the fattest, most unhealthy people on the planet. So rather than getting healthy, we blame the government for not giving us healthcare.

We Americans spend every dime we have on stupid, materialistic stuff. We bury ourselves in credit card debt and buy homes that are way out of our price range. Then when we default on our loans, we blame the mortgage industry for all the foreclosures. And what is our government's solution to the problem? They pass a bill to give us more money. And what do they want us to do with it to stimulate the economy? Should we save it? Should we pay off bills? "No," the government says. They want us to jump start the economy by spending it.

So we get ourselves into all kinds of problems. Then we want someone to come and bail us out. And elections are perfect for this. Now all a candidate has to do is remind the American people that THEY ARE THE VICTIM. And as soon as the candidates do that, they are in. We all want to vote for someone who says, "It's not your fault that you are in the mess you are in." And then says, "Not only is it not your fault, but if you vote for me, I will fix it for you."

When will people tell the truth? When will someone stand up and say, "Most people are getting their houses foreclosed on them because they bought a house that was too big and way too expensive for their paycheck. Yes, chances are, it is your fault." Man, the truth hurts sometimes. No one likes to hear it and even less people really believe it.

When will someone stand up and say that healthcare costs would drop substantially if America lost about 50 lbs a person. No, let's not be so bold as to tell people the truth. Let's blame it on someone else.

When will someone say that many kids get into crime, drop out of school, and never get a decent job because they didn't have parents that did their job. No, it's easier to blame the schools, the teachers, and the system. It's harder to admit that if less girls got pregnant out of wedlock and more kids actually had two parents who gave a damn, then we wouldn't see so many of our cities going to to hell in a handbasket.

Or how about natural disasters? I would love to hear the statistic on how many New Orleans folks who lived in a flood plain had flood insurance. Ok, coastal dwelling Americans, listen up. This isn't rocket science. If you live in a flood plain, either move or get flood insurance. If you don't and a big hurricane comes and floods your home, don't cry to the government about how unfair your life is.

It's about living a responsible life. It's about taking responsibility for who you are and what you do. I am not saying that our health care system is perfect. It's not. I'm not saying some schools couldn't do better. They could and should. I am not saying that we shouldn't help those who have been hit by a natural disaster. We should and we do. But we Americans need to get a grip. Government handouts are not going to fix things. We can't keep knocking on "big brother's" door expecting him to fix all our problems.

Most of us need a dose of reality. We need to own up to the fact that we are living in a life WE HAVE CHOSEN. In one way or another, most of us have made the decisions which have put us in the situation we are now in. There are true victims out there. But most of us are not them. Most of us are sleeping in the bed that we have made. Most of the real victims of this world don't even live in America. Going overseas makes it obvious, even to the most self-absorbed American, what a real victim of life looks like.


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