the past year or two, I’ve come across an incredible increase
in articles and reports and stories with a common element at the
foundation of whatever the issue. And that element is someone
blaming someone else for a perceived lack of action.
A is mad that Person B didn’t… voice an opinion… make a donation…
take a stand… whatever, fill-in-the-blank… to support a certain,
for lack of a better definition, a certain cause.
make no mistake… the charge is clear that Person A believes Person
B had an obligation to act… a responsibility to act.
And it almost seems that the lack of effort is arguably more important
to Person A than the cause itself.
often the charges are made in areas involving origin, race, gender,
religion, physical ability, sexual identity and age. We’ve all
seen them… effectively the areas of discrimination… and I’m not
looking to direct my writing here at a specific topic, so I’m
going to purposely leave it vague and general for now. The concept
though becomes an amazingly interesting part of this, because
discrimination of any kind is… simply put… a very important, never
to be taken lightly, inexcusable part of any situation.
to say I think in most cases the accusers… the Person A… are blatantly
overstepping their bounds, and could likely use a good rap across
the knuckles. (Not a punishing and damaging rap across the knuckles.
Just a figurative, attention-getting, slightly-painful, awareness-raising
with that, I mean… seriously… Person A needs to shut up.
I am (always have been and always will be) a huge supporter of
the theories involving personal responsibility issues, the reality
is that no one is on the hook of indebtedness “just because” they
fit a certain definition.
am not obligated to support any politician.
am not required to donate to a specific charity.
list continues… and can cross into some fairly significant and
serious areas. So to sum it up in mild terms…
from Rhode Island does not require me to order “a grinder and
a cabinet” when I’m looking for a sandwich and a shake.
~ ~ ~
are certain things we all need. And perhaps you know the game.
“If you found yourself on a deserted island, what…” and the idea
usually involves ranking the importance of a list of items you
can salvage from the wreckage of a plane or ship.
the real world, the listing includes food, water and shelter.
These are the essential needs. The ones we couldn’t survive without.
(And if you ever do play that game, don’t underestimate that fragment
of a broken mirror. Not the main point here though…)
would contend that being required to act a certain way or agree
with a specific point of view… for whatever reason… is not an
right there… you don’t need to read any further… there is no obligation
or responsibility for Person B unless it involves the requirements
“but”… no “what if”… and no exceptions.
~ ~ ~
life ever easy?
was reading a book by James Burke (I believe it was Connections:
Alternative History of Technology). In it, as I recall, Burke
explains how the origin of a civilization is essentially found
simply in the ability of a group to produce food at a better ratio
than one person providing enough to feed one person. Here’s what
I have to spend all of my waking hours providing for those essential
needs that I outlined a moment ago, then I will not have the ability
to do anything else. Sleep… work on shelter, food, water… sleep…
work on shelter, food, water… repeat.
doesn’t matter if I am surviving on my own… deserted on an island…
or living in a group of twenty, forty, or two thousand people.
If providing for those basic needs takes up all of my time… all
of our time… there is no way to expand into a civilization. All
I’m part of is… let’s call it a survivalization.
if we can figure out a way so that twenty of us can do the work
necessary to feed our group of one hundred… then we have something.
Because now the other eighty people can work on producing goods
and services, developing the arts, invest time in education, provide
protection, and… hopefully you start to see where this is going.
points to the plow.
my argument though, we have now crossed a different line between
Person A and Person B. Because my first argument was that Person
B didn’t have an obligation to act in any fashion to the whims
and desires of Person A.
obligation is to survive.
but being civilized. Perhaps that is a different story.
~ ~ ~
think we need to pause for a moment and allow a disclaimer.
are certain responsibilities all of us need to share. I’m not
positive I want to call them a legal responsibility, meaning following
the law. That’s partly because I’m not trying to develop a strange
definition of survival and obligations when it comes to legal
ramifications. Mainly though, it’s because instead we are getting
into what makes civilized living possible for all of us when interacting.
difficulty in doing this is that a “live and let live” mentality
doesn’t really cover it. What is normal and acceptable to you
may not be the same as normal and acceptable for someone else.
So while we need those laws… the organization, if you will, that
keeps traffic moving and life balanced… the idea here is more
allowing for the differences that are settled by offering another
ends the pause and disclaimer, and begins the transition to respect.)
I was younger one of the funny sayings was that when you point
a finger, three are pointing back at you.
wish that applied here.
we’re often faced with extremists, looking for attention, and
they usually march to the drumbeat of their accusations. The problem
isn’t that they live by what they preach… instead it’s that what
they preach isn’t necessarily something others need to support.
personally do believe that all of us should attempt to make the
world a better place, as much as it is within our abilities to
do. That may mean donating millions of dollars to a charity… that
may mean volunteering for thousands of hours around a community…
that may mean picking up a piece of paper off the ground and paying
attention to recycling in the home.
difficulty is that it’s not for me to decide what is best for
you. It’s not up to me to determine your connections to society
can only hope that whatever decisions you do make, they are ones
that allow you to be the best person you can be… that you sleep
well at night and feel good about your contributions.
in the end, I hope you recognize your extra efforts as a choice.
We are all responsible for our actions. We all have obligations
we must face to provide for those necessary elements of survival.
None of us should be forced, threatened or shamed into action
~ ~ ~
often than you might think, the socially accepted right thing
to do is not what every person believes should be done… and when
Person B doesn’t agree with you, that doesn’t mean Person B has
I didn’t say Person B was being civilized. It doesn’t mean Person
B is wrong (or right).
simply means that the requirements… the obligations… of what a
person must do and must not do, once we get past those essential
needs of life and civilized living, should not be created by force.