Tilted Windmills: Personal responsibility is for someone else
by Mike McLellan / For the Tracy Press
Mar 29, 2013 | 2864 views | 6 6 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
While we might wish that everyone else embraces personal responsibility, most of us seem to want no part of it ourselves.

Personal responsibility is the willingness to accept both the benefits and consequences of our actions. It was once a major part of individual ethics. It seems to have fallen into disrepute.

When we do something or when something occurs because we didn’t do anything, the current trend is to look for someone else to blame. It is a matter of creative fault-finding.

It begins in early childhood with “The dog ate my homework.” It escalates to “Everyone does it,” to “The devil made me do it.” Then it easily becomes the fault of the government, the unfairness of life, or — my personal favorite — the fault of parents.

While my father had to work to pay the bills and provide for his family, he should have stayed home and spent all his time nurturing me. I would have turned out better.

Don’t muddy the ethical water by asserting that long held tenant that most screw ups happen because we don’t consider the after-effects before we act. Even if we do consider the consequences, we believe that someone else will own them.

We can always find a good reason not to admit our limits.

This is seen in the wholesale use of cell phones while driving. The law should be for other people who are not as good at multitasking as we are. Besides, as important people, we need to answer every call or text that comes in, no matter what the traffic around us might be like.

While every delinquent child has at least one lousy parent to blame, there may come a time when we adults — as orphans — will need to be more imaginative to shirk accountability. We will find a way.

We have even devised a plan to get crazy people off the hook. If we do something wrong when out of our minds, we plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Closer to the truth is that we may have been guilty by reason of insanity. The way we describe it means that even if it was our fault, it is not our fault after all.

Last year, the sheriff who pulled my wife and I over near Siskiyou Summit asked me if I had seen the speed limit sign. I had not. I was sure that either it did not exist or had been blocked by a truck.

Besides, everyone goes faster than the posted limit. This bust was made in a blatant speed trap. We knew that law enforcement was only there to help Jackson County balance its budget.

It could not be that I was in a big hurry and had allowed my inattention to make the car exceed both the speed limit and reason. Then again, if there was any error, it was due to the weather or the phase of the moon.

Looking back, having paid the fine, I realize that I was only driving like my father used to. He was speeding then.

• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4231 or emailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
April 01, 2013
ChrisRoberts writes, "I love when people with no legal back round try to talk about the insanity defense and other legal matters."

I suppose that's why he does it so much.

April 01, 2013
"Back Round"???!! is this a new cut of beef? Is it like flank steak or Tri-Tip? (I love Tri-Tip) :-)
April 01, 2013
I love when people with no legal back round try to talk about the insanity defense and other legal matters.

Mike McLellan, what legal credentials do you have? Or are you another wikipedia/google self taught lawyer?
March 29, 2013
I always enjoy Mike's observations. However, in this one, "tenants" should be "tenets."
March 29, 2013
slatz1 - Thank you. It was not my fault. My dog typed this one. -M
March 29, 2013
Yep, personal responsibility in good part has left the building. Sad for all of us we have an inept king who is the biggest offender leading the way with his far left cohorts in tow.

Their mantra? It's not my fault, it's not your fault, it's the evil banks, the evil people who actually work harder and better than you to make their own way, and the evil people who came before us. Fear not my sheep, I'm here to take thier gold and place it into your pockets.

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