Friday, June 28, 2013

Writing from 2011 and today: Avoiding Responsibility

In Miss Congeniality, Sandra Bullock's character first mocks, then finally admits her own concurrence with the repetitive beauty queen wish for 'world peace'. While this is a most desirable sentiment, it seems too abstract to be of any functional value. Were I given a chance to give my own answer on national television, my answer would be a little different.

My desire would be that individuals would accept responsibilities for their choices and actions. This requires an integrity of character and would enable a clearer view of all difficulties and the courses needed to resolve them. (It would also cut out a lot of the bickering, blaming, and side-stepping ever present in the modern world.) And as a society and all parts of it are made up of individuals, this would influence families, schools, businesses, government, and how many other institutions?

For example, the "Pro-Choice" campaign is really just a calculated misnomer. They claim they're fighting for women's rights to decide the uses of their own bodies. Truthfully, though, they're actually campaigning for "No Consequences". Understandably excusing such cases as rape or when the mother's own life is endangered, abortion is just a mean of seeking to avoid the natural result of children coming from sex. It is known that contraceptives are not perfect, nor even invasive surgery, so that cannot even nullify an unexpected pregnancy. What is perhaps most disturbing is how accepting society is becoming towards destruction of innocent life to escape the consequences of choices they freely (even too freely) made in the first place.

I am reminded of something my mom once told me as a child. She quoted this rhyme I have remembered ever since: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave/ When first we practice to deceive." She taught me that when someone lies, they often have to keep lying to protect themselves from being caught in the first lie. Ultimately it grows bigger and stickier and they end up caught in a trap of their own making. Unfortunately, people tend to lie to avoid responsibility in the first place and are more likely to look for further escapes rather than coming clean.

This avoidance of responsibility is an alarming trend that has grown over the past generation. I just saw further evidence of it today on twitter. Simply put, our world keeps trying to claim freedom from self-responsibility and looking for more and more ways to avoid natural consequences. Apparently some CNN chic is using 'humans are just animals anyway' to excuse extra-marital wanderings. Deseret News has a nice rebuttal but this thinking is not limited to fidelity. It can be seen in the microcosm of the individual all the way up to international relations, global marketing, economics and even religious claims (most particularly by individuals on the extreme peripheries). It can be found throughout history books, too. Haven't we learned anything? Sadly, it seems history is more of play-book for ideas rather than a 'learn from your mistakes' resource.

What is ironic is that it is used merely as a tool of convenience. How often do the very people avoiding responsibility in one realm condemn others for failing in 'their responsibilities' in another? How many people are so focused on global warming or fighting for rights of convenience and yet are unwilling to take the simple but profound actions of saying, "I'm sorry. I was wrong. What do I need to do to make this right?" Instead, it tends to be, "You're wrong for doing this to me. Fix it!" Or, "Who are you to expect me to clean up my own messes?"

There are always exceptions to the rule, but it seems we live in a time when people are lobbying to make their exception the rule. Society cannot be expected to maintain healthy functioning under these conditions. And yet the solution is so simple, it's profound. I refuse to say it's too simple to be functional. Any claiming that clearly are trying to avoid the truth rather than put the effort in to change. What is this simple solution?

I said it at the beginning. It is merely to take responsibility for yourself. Teach your children that actions have consequences for both good and bad and if they can claim the choice then they better be willing to accept the consequence. As more people act on this simple principle, I believe it will inspire others to do so. And while it is unlikely that all will be inclined to adopt such integrity, the more who do, the smoother everything will run. I think we will also find that it will free up our energies, time, and attention to better address the rest of the world's concerns. As the most recent under-cover agent book I read said, "The less lies you tell, the less you have to remember." Correspondingly, the less time we spend avoiding natural consequences, the more freedom we have to focus on more important things.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, but I have several scenarios for you. I don't think things are as cut and dried.

    Let's say you take a ride in a car, knowing cars are dangerous, and you get hit. Should you go to the hospital to avoid the 'natural consequences' of your decision?

    Often, responsibility is not cut and dried. Let's say a group says "If you draw that picture of mohammed, we're going to kill 5 people". Is it your responsibility if you draw the picture, or is the killing the responsibility of the people actually doing it?

    This is similar to the unwise victim scenario. If I go down a dark alley at night with dollars hanging out of my pocket, and I get mugged, is it my fault?

    I find that in general it's really easy to reduce everything down to a simple 'take responsibility', but when you look at specific cases life is far more complex than that.