America’s Real Epidemic

Few weeks go by that we are not subject to hear about the latest societal “epidemic” on the nightly news. I believe we have a very serious epidemic in America, but it has nothing to do with health or diet, at least not directly. America is suffering from a severe shortage of personal responsibility. I just finished reading “Man’s Search For Meaning,” in which Viktor Frankl, a psychologist who survived 4 concentration camps explains our most basic freedom, that of personal choice. I’ll let Frankl speak for himself here:

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

Here is a man who, stripped of every single thing that can be taken away from a person without taking physical life itself, dug deep into his soul to discover that one thing which makes us free, our ability to choose what meaning we assign to everything in our lives. Through a harrowing process that even my imagination cannot bear, Frankl discovers he is, in fact, a free man – freer than the guards in the concentration camps.

In America today, I fear that freedom has degenerated into the arbitrariness Frankl described, a land where people are not held responsible, and need not be with a government who coddles massive corporate greed, thoughtless business blunders and an environment where no one is allowed to feel the repercussions of their decisions and actions.

As we all sit back and hold our hands out to the government, we systematically hand our basic rights back over to them, essentially admitting we are not to be trusted with daily decision making and thereby invite them into our homes and lives to tell us how to live there. If we grew up with parents who were like the United States Government, we’d all still be lying in cribs with soiled diapers.

To be sure, there are a lot of responsible folks like Cory the Well Driller, hardworking, self-made people, who epitomize why we fought so hard for freedom. It’s this group of people who don’t have time to fight for their rights, because they are busy fighting against the system just to keep the fruits of their labor, simply to hold onto the things they’ve worked their butts off to attain. These folks are quietly living life, being accountable and watching the things they worked so hard for be handed to those who don’t feel like working.

To this group (and to myself) I offer this challenge: start holding others accountable and stop worrying about political correctness. Stop accepting excuses and start demanding more. If someone doesn’t want to earn their way, let them live with the results of their laziness. We in this group willingly contribute to actual charitable causes, and ensure that worthy causes remain funded, but that does not include the welfare nation.

And to the irresponsible masses: shirking personal responsibility and expecting someone else to clean up your mess is equivalent to taking the lives of the men who died in the American Revolution yourself. You invalidate all that they fought for, all that they gave up, all that they risked, in your lazy irresponsibility.

We have an epidemic alright, and one for which I’m quite certain we’ll never see a magic pill. The historic election we have just witnessed has so many wonderful, positive aspects. I do hope however, that Obama’s approach will not further denigrate our freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. It is MY hope that Obama is indeed an agent of change, and in so being demands responsibility and holds individuals and businesses accountable before “spreading wealth around.” It is my dream that people start holding themselves and EACH OTHER accountable, demand more and accept fewer excuses.

3 thoughts on “America’s Real Epidemic”

  1. Great post, i agree 100%.

    Here’s an interesting example of how many people behave when they are not held responsible for their actions…. has anyone ever spent much time following an unmoderated online forum, chat room, etc? If you have, then no doubt you have seen people behaving incredibly rude, cursing, denigrating others, arguing, and otherwise behaving in a way that would NEVER be acceptable when face-to-face. The reason it happens is anonymity, and nobody can hold them accountable for what they say or do.

    That’s just the social aspect though, having personal responsibility for your own actions even when nobody is watching is called integrity. Integrity plays a big part in this epidemic as well.

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