For Gosh Sakes, Grow Up and Take Responsibility
Believe it or Not You're An Adult Now
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
This article begged to be written. It is born out of frustration with the cult of, "I want it, but I don't want to take responsibility for it". In other words, I'm wondering if, as a culture, we're ever going to grow up.
This trend seems to fall into three primary catagories:
- It's not my fault.
- You owe me, even though I've done nothing to earn it.
- It's not my problem.
Actually It Is Your Fault
“Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others.”
How many times have you heard somebody say that the reason they aren't doing better in life is that they had a rough childhood? What about the bad boss who has it in for them? And let's not forget rotten marriages, bad teachers, schools, neighborhoods, cars. The list could probably go on for as long as you have to read it. This is because there is no shortage of things to blame for your lack of progress.
The truth is something else - it's easier to point fingers than to tix problems.
Many of us are blaming the banks and Government for our high mortgages and mountain of debt, even as we're getting into our 2-year-old luxury car, popping in a blu-ray disc, then going shopping on our credit card. Others complain constantly about lousy co-workers and bosses, all the time oblivious to the fact that their own bitterness has alienated those around them.
Of all the reasons people say they don't have the life they want, the one I hear most often is "bad parenting" (also known as a bad childhood). This might elicit some sympathy if the speaker were 18 years old, but it gets a bit tiresome when a 45-year-old is still using that as a way to explain their life. And really, how many of us actually had what we consider an outstanding childhood anyway? Being a kid is hard, and even the best parented children are lucky to escape it completely unscathed.
I am not suggesting that people are not terribly scarred by all kinds of things in life, and it's undeniable that many of us have suffered serious financial setbacks, especially in recent years. The point is that strong people have picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and begun searching for solutions. That is called personal responsibility, and it's a sign of maturity.
The Eternal Childhood of Cultural Parasites
“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.” - Mahatma Gandhi (An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth)
Younger people sponge off struggling parents because they feel working in fast food or other manual labor is beneath them. Other people live together in groups, existing on their collective unemployment, medicaid, and welfare checks, with no one holding a job. This attitude always strikes me as a sort of toxic, extended childhood, in which people are free to play because their needs are taken care of.
Several years ago I worked for a corporation which prided itself on it's multi-cultural workplace. I got to hear what citizens of other countries thought about living in the U.S.. They didn't all say what I thought they would.
A number of my co-workers had escaped from poverty-stricken countries, some of which were police states where no one felt safe. A lot of these people loved the U.S. and planned to become citizens, but a large number openly advertised that they would take every benefit they could from this country, then "escape" back home with the money they'd earned. Their U.S. status provided them with free or affordable education, housing, and more. There was another group who wanted to stay simply because of the low-cost, high-wage lifestyle they enjoyed.
I am a fan of programs which help us when we need it: however, when people bleed those systems dry with an "I want it but haven't earned it" point of view, it does tremendous damage. Not only do they become parasites, sucking the life out of other people or the system, they run the risk of never growing up and reaping the benefits of accomplishment and maturity.
If You Don't Do It Who Will?
“I don't want to live in the kind of world where we don't look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I cant change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.”
― Charles de Lint
Do we really have to be told to vote? The fact that it takes an army of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get people off their couches to vote makes a very loud, unpleasant statement about some of our attitudes. Americans are born enjoying freedoms their forbears fought and died for, yet many citizens yawn and change the subject when they're asked if they'll vote for the president. This is not the problem, though - it's another symptom. The disease is lack of personal responsibility and accountability.
If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain about government. If you don't take charge of your life, whose fault is it when you fail? If you are unpleasant to neighbors and co-workers, whose problem is it that you're lonely? If your home or neighborhood are unkempt and unpleasant, whose fault is it if you make no effort to improve them?
It may temporarily make a person feel better to blame their problems on other people or circumstances, but it's a temporary illusion. The fact is that when we take personal responsibility, we can affect real, dramatic changes. As a bonus, we develop self confidence, and life skills. Best of all, we actually get the chance to grow up.