I think very few people would argue that one of America’s chief social tenants of late has become the abdication of personal responsibility. It’s not my fault! When you combine this with greed (which always comes from having a lot, which we all do — comparatively) and with the belief that the world owes me what I want (thank you social safety net and other liberal ideas), then add a healthy dose of consumerism, you get a fairly lethal cocktail. The more people that drink this Kool-aid, the faster “It’s not my fault” becomes “It’s your fault, and I’m going to sue you for it.”
And this phenomenon isn’t limited to your kid tripping on my hose and breaking his arm. It’s everywhere. Even in government. As the world’s gotten smaller (which I talked about yesterday) and the philosophy of I’m-not-responsible has taken root, an interesting change has been made possible for the traditional institutions of government.
At the local level, it’s the county’s or the state’s problem. At the state level, it’s a federal problem. At the federal level, the supreme court seems to be involved in every law that’s been passed in the last 5 years. It seems like nobody wants to be the guy. It’s always somebody else. How many times during the Hurricane Katrina tragedy did you here the mayor say it was the governor’s problem or the governor say that it was Bush’s fault. Some of that is politics, sure, but some of it is the need to blame someone else. Who in that entire picture stood up and said, “I did this this and this wrong. I’m sorry. I’ve learned from my mistakes.” ? Not many. And this is just one (really good) example.
Something I’ve been hearing a lot more of lately than I used to is the term “International Law”. All over the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, all over the Iraq debacle, all over the accusations of torture and military misconduct we’ve had to endure lately, and even in some supreme court debate. All of a sudden now, members of the judiciary in America seem to think it’s a good idea to cite International Law in their decision making. The constitution’s no longer good enough. Let’s see what France or Russia had to say about … whatever.
And that’s laying the groundwork. As more and more people are less and less able to say, “I’m the man. The buck stops with me.” then the “buck” will naturally get thrown over the wall to some larger body of government to “be the man”. Eventually, you get things like the EU. Seemed like a good idea at the time … I guess … to some. Solve our internal problems with more centralized government. Make things easier. Have them give me stuff. Blah blah blah. But in the end, I can just rely on someone else to make it happen for me. Ought to sound pretty familiar, ’cause it’s the same thing in America for a lot of people. “We can’t do it ourselves.” “It’s the government’s responsibility to save me from all the bad things in the world.” “The government owes me retirement … and welfare … and health care … and education … and … and … and ….” We need help … all the time … for everything. It’s constant. Sometimes it seems like all I here anymore. SUCK IT UP! I get so tired of hearing how people don’t have enough opportunity. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… “Dude, this is America. If you can’t get it together here, then there’s no place on earth you can get it together.”
But if people won’t take responsibility for themselves … If everyone’s tendency is to throw it over the wall to whoever will catch it … Then one of these days even our national sovereignty will be out the window. And there are some that actively want that. Look at the southern border. “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Look at the debate over Guantanamo Bay. “Every person on earth should be protected by the American constitution and given a lawyer in our civilian courts.” Give me a break!
It’s all connected. These are all symptoms of the line of thinking that Big Brother has to take care of me. I need government to do for me what I can’t possibly do for myself. And on this path, it won’t be that many years before we’re spending Ameros (the currency of the North American Union), competing in the olympics against against the United States of Africa, relying on the United Nations for everything (good luck with that), and getting an upclose and personal look at the debate over which horn will grow up to devour the other ten.
So let’s take a step back here. We don’t need the government to do nearly as much for us as it does. Certainly not more than it does. It’s not someone else’s responsibilty to educate my kids. The TV is a lousy babysitter and an even worse philosopher. It’s probably not the teacher’s problem when little Johnny gets detention. If little Suzie trips on your hose, then she should be more careful. It’s not always racism. You won’t be happy if you just had one more raise. And you don’t need anybody to give you stuff. If we get a little perspective and a lot more backbone back in our lives, then we can do without yet another layer of (International) government. Because I’m just not ready yet for a personal tour through the book of Daniel.