Personal Responsibility and the Hummer

What do the H2, Congress, and Lukewarm Coffee all have in common? They are syptoms of a societal refusal to take personal responsibility. Most people want to take the path of least resistance, and allow others to make decisions for them. When things don't work the way you want them to, you want someone to blame. Starting with the obvious one, when you order hot coffee, and you put that hot coffee in your lap, while driving, and that coffee spills on you, who should take the blame? The person who ordered the coffee? The person who put that coffee in your lap? The person who drove with that coffee in your lap? Or the person who provided you witht eh coffee you ordered? In any rational examination of the situation, it wouldn't be that last one.

So, for a less obvious example, let's look at Congress. Ultimately the power of the Federal Government resides in Congress. Neither the Executive nor the Judicial branches have the ability to create laws. Congress is up for election all the damn time. (Every House seat is up every two years.) And yet... it's Bush this and Cheney that. They're responsible for all the ills of the world. Um... I call bullshit on that. Every member of Congress has been through an election since Bush took office. If people really were that dissatisfied with Bush and willing to take responsibility for doing something about it they would have voted in a Congress that would take action. They would be willing to remove representative who don't do their job. They would make it clear that when you don't vote the way I believe you should, You lose my vote. You do that enough, you lose your job. Voted yourself a pay raise, while unemployment in your district went up? You're out. But people won't do that. They vote party lines. They vote based on 30 seconds of soundbites about how awful the opponent is. Or, most likely, they don't vote at all. "My one vote won't make a difference." is saying "I'd rather someone else decided how my Country is run."

So, where does the H2 come into this? Well... why would anyone drive an H2? It doesn't have the usefullness of an actual Humvee (and when was the last time you saw one that was off-road, or even dirty for that matter?). And it's too expensive to use as a working vehicle. The only reason someone would buy an H2 is as a status symbol. And status symbols are just another way of saying "I can't be held responsible for my own self-worth. I will allow others to decide my self-worth based on the display I make." Rather than spending that money on adding insulation to my house, or taking classes in something that interests me, I'll buy a vehicle that gets lousey milage, but looks pretty (to someone, I suppose.)

Of course, most of the people who know me (and hence might actually be reading this), are sitting there saying "Yeah, Hummer drivers are total tools." But every time you make a decision based in any part on what someone will think of you for doing something, you're doing the same thing. You're transfering responsibility for your decision to someone else. Am I innocent of this? Of course not. To some extent, shared responsibility is the foundation of civilization, but I think we'd all be better off if when we did sacrfice our personal responsibility to that of the group... well, we took responsibility for doing so.

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