What happened to personal responsibility?

Anastasia Spytsya

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” His famous saying pretty much sums up the fundamental principle of America, which means that we the people are given a Constitutional right to create a more perfect union, to pursue happiness if we choose to. President Lincoln had a reason not to say, “Government of the politicians for the people.”

Today in America, we seem to have a great need to blame everything and everyone for tough economic times but the person in the mirror. We blame oil companies for high gas prices, but for some reason we own Hummers, SUVs, and boats. We fail to remember the law of supply and demand. We blame the banks for high interest rates, but we fail to remember that we owe the banks about $1 trillion in personal credit card debt. It is like eating in McDonald’s and not being able to do a single push-up but blaming the company for our obesity.

Personal responsibility seems to be ignored in our society today, but it is the foundation of the stable economy of our country. In fact, it is a foundation of any kind of success. Whether a person is seeking stability with his or her money, career or weight, that person needs to take control of that situation and not rely on others. It’s like blaming your friend for letting you drink too much last night. Don’t you have your own brain to control it? No one will know how to help you if you do not know how to help yourself.

Most of us know what the concept of personal responsibility means. We can tell when someone is being irresponsible, and we blame that person for all the sins on the earth. Yet we fail to admit our own personal blind spots. We always deny that we are at fault for anything, and we often find someone to blame it for.

No, seriously, do you really think that our banks crashed because of President George W. Bush? When was the last time you used your credit card and the money you didn’t have? We complain that our government messed everything up, that our employer did not keep his or her promises, etc. But in reality, we fear to face our faults because it will mean that we will have to fix a problem.

As Justice Casey Percell said, “It is not the government or the legal system’s responsibly to protect a citizen from himself.” The reality is that the current economic crisis is Bob Smith and Amanda Johnson’s failure to pay their mortgages, their credit card bills and their car loans. People were too immature and spent money they did not have on things they could not afford. We the people are as much responsible for the problems we are facing today as George W. Bush and President Barack Obama are.

We expect our government to save us from ourselves. When this nation was founded, people believed that the government exists only to protect their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now people believe that government exists to solve their problems. But we need to gain some common sense before believing it. The fact is that our own politicians showed a humongous amount of irresponsibility and some big-time failures. Thus, it does not give us any right to follow their example, to complain about their fiasco and to let them take over our country. What we must do, however, is to become responsible for our own actions.

Anastasia Spytsya is a senior Russian translation major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]