Accepting Personal Responsibility
The game of blame shifting and finger pointing is national pastime.
Editor's note: As Ray mentioned in a recent post, he has been dealing with kidney stones. Ray continues to recover and so this week, please enjoy his column from March of 2012.
The new national pastime is finger pointing and blame shifting. In the political world, we hear from our lawmakers that the situations requiring decisions they make are not really their fault. The President says the higher gasoline prices are not his fault. Local and statewide officeholders across the nation find a way to shift the blame to the people with the national political mantra, “Let the people decide.”
In the home, couples with trouble in their marriage point a finger at the other spouse or the situations they have to face. Parents blame their children for disruption in the home. Children blame parents for not understanding them. In sports, the blame is shifted to the rules or the referees. In the church, it is “the other crowd running the church” that is found to be at fault for all the bad that is happening. From the pulpit, it is easy for the preacher to be tempted to blame Washington, Atlanta, or any other set of circumstances, as to why all is not well. There are many people who have fulltime jobs just letting other people know the individual is not at fault because it was something that happened to them when they were an infant and on we go, never being willing to recognize personal responsibility.
Each of us has defining moments in our memory when the reality of life comes on us to understand we are responsible for the actions and decisions we make in life. For me, that moment came as I was leaving home to attend college in another city far from where I had family and friends. Leaving home for whatever reason is always an emotional time. The car was packed and the family stood close by to wave goodbye that day; Mother was crying and Daddy, never being very affectionate, reached out his hand to shake my hand in a departing gesture. At that moment Daddy said, “Son, always remember if you ever find that you need a helping hand…” I was anxious to hear Daddy complete his departing counsel and offer of help to me that day. I was certain he was going to say, “Call home, and we will help you.” He did not say that. I thought he might say, “You will never be alone or left to find your own way from any circumstance.” He did not say that. His final departing words to me were; “Son, always remember if you ever find that you need a helping hand, look on the end of your arm.”
Before you recoil in horror that a parent would say such a thing, I understood exactly what he meant with that statement. He was reinforcing what we had always been taught, and that is personal responsibility. In this entitlement demanding age when personal responsibility is mentioned, the glazed look comes over the faces of people because they want a helping hand from someone else other than on the end of their arm.
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter @RayNewmanSr