on Responsibility

“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim”. Richard Bach (b. 1936), an American writer

Medicare has been a big topic lately in the news, as has the other fiscal behemoth, Social Security. As I watch politicians from both parties bicker over what to do with them, the ship is slowly sinking. Considering Medicare is only 46 years old and Social Security is only 76 years old, I keep wondering how we even got to this place so quickly. Did our government once again promise more than it could deliver? Did they fail to plan for the future? Where we foolish to put more trust in government than ourselves? As a 41 year old who truly believes that I will never see one dime of the thousands of dollars that I have already put into both of these entitlements over the past twenty five years, I am already feeling robbed. I would like to know who bears the responsibility for where my generation is today, wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, we need look no further than our own mirror. Yes, we can blame the politicians, yes we can blame the nebulous “government”, but in reality, this is a government for the people & by the people, is it not? If you feel that it no longer is, then we the people are solely to blame. Why? Because Americans decide our own destiny when our votes are cast; we alone are in charge of our future. When we care more about the letter after a candidate’s name, or the color of their skin, or their ethnic background, or what goodies they can promise us, instead of the content of their character, we the people alone are the ones to blame for where we are today. We were given the sacred responsibility to elect honorable men and women to steer a steady course for this nation, and both my generation and the ones that came before have blown it.

So here we are, in a fine mess, with everyone pointing fingers at everyone else but themselves. We have shirked our responsibility to ourselves and future generations because we have failed to make reasoned, common sense choices in the leaders we elect. We have chased our own dreams and failed to understand that the only way to ensure their enduring future is do the constant hard work of overseeing these same leaders. Because of this our government has become a like cancerous mass, so large and controlling that it threatens to destroy its own host. We have ignored the responsibilities that all free citizens must bear – to ensure sound, prudent, and efficient government – and as a result have sacrificed more liberties, both personal and financial, for ourselves and our children.

All is not lost, however. We are just merely at the hard part. Because of the irresponsibility of past and current generations, it will be even more painful to fix this mess, but fix it we must. Just like surgery and chemo are painful for the cancer patient, the alternative to allowing the cancer to grow unchecked is even worse. How do we save the patient? Can we balance doing the honorable thing with doing the responsible thing? To quote our current president, “Yes, we can”; but just not in the way he thinks. Responsibility means sitting down and making the hard choices, prioritizing people over policy, the desires of a nation over a personal agenda. It also involves trust; not necessarily in the political opponent across the aisle, but in the American people that are the true foundation of this great nation. Despite what our politicians believe, we are not their children to be taken care of, but their parents to be listened to and trusted.

Just like unruly children cannot entirely blamed for their undisciplined behavior, neither can we fully blame our leaders for the burden that we ourselves have refused to bear as their parents. After all, we are the ones that put them there, and then neglected our duty to continually hold these imperfect men and women to account. And, just like real parents who have to suffer the financial consequences of their young children’s bad choices, we too will now have to suffer through fixing the bad choices our politicians have made over the last several generations. We must step in and become the responsible parents of this great nation or we put our house, and everyone in it, at risk. If we don’t stand up and remind our leaders that the buck ultimately stops with us, there won’t be many more bucks left.

“Three groups spend other people’s money: children, thieves, and politicians. All three need supervision” Dick Armey (b. 1940), former U.S. Representative from Texas’s 26th congressional district

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