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Posted by – 7/10/04

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I have yet to arrive at the day when it ceases to amaze me just how far Americans will go to win at the blame game. Personal responsibility is one value that we simply don’t value. It seems the American dream is to get by on as little as possible and blame everyone from Jenny Jones to the ever elusive “Man” for causing you trouble and keeping you down.

I just watched Michael Moore’s Oscar-winning documentary “Bowling for Columbine”, and something in the film seemed a little too representative of the American public at large. Forget who’s to blame for school violence or wars overseas. At one point in the movie, Moore focuses on the hardships endured by Tamarla Owens, the mother of a 6-year-old boy who brought a gun to an elementary school in Flint, Michigan and shot and killed one of his classmates. In some truth-stretching I haven’t seen since “my sister ate the cake”, Moore insecurely links the boy having brought a gun to school to the mother’s inability to pay living expenses. Moore then paints a picture of this woman being among the proverbial “downtrodden”. Her position is surely the fault of some higher authority that refuses to give her an opportunity.

It’s a tragedy, it really is. I think it’s horrible that the mother was working 70 hours a week in two full-time jobs 40 miles away from her son, both of which were insufficient to afford the cost of rent. I’m not faulting her for the position she’s in. But we shouldn’t fault big businesses or the government either. It’s Tamarla’s own responsibility to do whatever she can to get out of the situation she’s in. Situations like that are the furthest from “feel good.” But simply trying to glaze over the situation at hand and “fix” the problem we see never does anyone any good. In the film itself, Moore highlights that one of the government’s “fixes” is the work-for-welfare program that has Owens riding a bus 80 miles round-trip for inadequate wages. Has anyone thought of heading the problem off at the pass? Perhaps we should focus on the children and give them something to work hard towards.

If a person’s goal in life is simply to survive, then that can be done on welfare. But who wants that? Where’s the excitement there? If I’m going to be poor, I’d like it to be because I tried and failed, not because I never tried at all. I don’t want the government to be responsible for taking care of my every need. That’s what my parents were for, and I’m transitioning from that point in my life to the point where I make decisions for myself. What’s the idea behind a childlike society in which Mommy and Daddy in D.C. make all my decisions for me? The very people lobbying for such a socialist society are the same people that will charge at the government full steam once such programs are in place, whining that the government isn’t performing its duties to their satisfaction. Well, before such systems are in place, why don’t you take responsibility for your own well-being? You set up your own personal systems to your own satisfaction. That’s one of the beautiful things about America: options! Sure, there’s more risk! But you get to make your own decisions! With bigger risks come bigger chances to either win big or be a dismal failure. But in this world, the world I want to live in, it’s me that failed trying, not some far off overseer that didn’t care whether or not I made it.

I somehow feel that, at this point, I should end thusly: RESPONSIBILITY. THE ANTI-DRUG.

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