night on Sixty Minutes, they did an in depth interview with a young basketball
star named LeBron James. Now, if you have read any of the columns I’ve written
over these past twenty five years, you will notice a dearth of discussions on
sports. The reason is simple. I don’t know anything about sports. I know this
may come as a surprise to you, but I’ve been focusing on other subjects for most
of my life. |
Anyway, this interview was refreshing and most of all, hopeful.
It showed us a young man who rose up from a life of poverty and has made something
of himself as well as those around him. Although he is only twenty four, he is
already looking past his sports days and what he wants to do when that time comes.
I applaud him for his efforts and his vision.
The one thing I did not
hear from him was a ‘I am a victim’ attitude. He took responsibility for his actions,
for the hardships that he suffered in his earlier years and shrugged them off
as just part of life. In my opinion, this is a rare thing in our society today.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of listening to the chronic whiners of
the day as they attempt to convince me that all of the troubles in their lives
are somehow my fault.
I’ve got news for you. I have troubles of my own.
All God’s children have troubles. ( I heard this somewhere).
The old adage
of the squeaky wheel gets the grease is never more apparent than it is today.
Not a day goes by that we aren’t subjected to the ‘woe is me’ complaints by someone
who failed to take personal responsibility for their own actions. Someone robs
a bank and then complains about the method in which they were arrested. Someone
crosses the border illegally and then complains because they were deported. Someone
is sentenced to a drug rehabilitation clinic and is upset because they can’t see
their friends for a month or so. Another person is sent to jail for years for
stealing someone’s life savings (think Madoff) and they are indignant because
they can’t be out on bail using the money they stole as security. Another person
loses a job because they faked their resume and they get mad and feel put out
upon while saying…. ‘Everyone does it.’ My mother and yours as well used to say…
“If all of your friends jumped off a cliff…would you as well?”
we have made a lack of personal responsibility a science as well as an art form
in this country. Nothing that we do or that happens to us can be traced to our
fault. We are absolved of any guilt for any situation that ever occurs. Mass murderers
can stand up in a court of law and proclaim to the world, without smiling, that
the reason they went on a rampage and killed multiple people is the fact that
they didn’t have a birthday party when they were ten or eleven years old. God
help us all.
The drunk driver who tries to drive home and smashes into
another car killing all of its occupants has no trouble finding a lawyer to sue
the bartender or the restaurant who kept serving him alcohol. The courts are full
of these type of law suits where the thought of personal responsibility is thrown
out of the window. When I grew up all of the swimming pools had diving boards,
you ever see one on a backyard pool today? Nope, I didn’t think so. The pool makers
stopping selling them since they were being sued so often for the reckless behavior
of swimmers. When I was a kid I knew better than to try a double back flip. Does
this make me perfect? No, of course not. I did stupid things just like everyone
else. The difference to me was that when I made a mistake and got caught, I knew
in my heart it was my fault and I was responsible for my actions. All of us know
in our hearts what is right and what is wrong. We know when we hurt someone or
do something that causes pain or grief. What we have done as a society is to allow
those feelings to be pushed aside and be placed at the feet of someone other than
The all knowing government cannot do this for us. The schools
cannot do this for us. Religion cannot do this for us. Only our family can do
this for us. Our families have to stand up and take responsibility for the children
and instill them with a sense of personal responsibility such as that in someone
like LeBron James. These are the kinds of role models our country needs today,
not glorifying drug dealers or the rich who made their wealth by some illegal
methods. We need to get back to basics….and stay there.
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Letters From North America
- April 1, 2009 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
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