Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Being Personally Responsible

If anyone knows me or have read anything that I have ever written, I am all for personal responsibility. I remember getting into big trouble as a consultant with a large city government for insisting that communities be personally responsible for their own neighborhoods. Change begins with each of us on the smallest of levels. Trash in our neighborhoods is not a small thing. As does love, respect begins at home. But when I heard Joe Scarborough and Peggy Noonan this morning on "Morning Joe" talking about personal responsibility it had a particular divisive and partisan ring.

"Barack Obama is going to be talking about Republican themes of personal responsibility and cleaning up the vacant lot next door," said Joe. Are democrats not personally responsible? Who lives among vacant lots? Peggy Noonan chimed in some time later with the same pejorative buzz word, as if either of them actually knows what President-elect Obama will say, "Yes, he's going to talk about personal responsibility, like cleaning up those vacant lots in your own neighborhood."

By then I was livid. There is no doubt that this disparaging "vacant lot" had not only a derogative anti-Democratic tone, but was used pejoratively to indicate African Americans. Such words are incredibly disheartening especially considering the past eight years where vacant lots in and of themselves did not add to the financial crisis currently rocking America. What about President Reagan's notion of laissez-faire economics that many believe has brought us to our current financial crisis? What about those who bankrupted banks and mortgage companies escaping in golden parachutes that landed in pristine gated communities? The financial crisis had more to do with these and less to do with vacant lots. Who will be held personally responsible for these things?

Financial institutions received welfare the likes that vacant lots will never see in thousands of lifetimes. Vacant lots had nothing to do with water boarding. Many Americans are asking that the current Republican president take personal responsibility for torture. Many are insisting that the incoming president charge him with war crimes. (I am not.) Yes, we all need to take personal responsibility but divisive partisan buzz words and tones will not unify us and will not get to the heart of what's needed to turn this country around. We need bi-partisanship and personal responsibility from everyone with respect for differences. Derogative buzz words strike the absolute wrong chord in this difficult time America now faces.


Meena said...

Wow, I very much agree with what you are saying. I believe in being responsible, but there is a lot to be said about those working in the mortgage industry who made off like bandits. I would even suggest taking back the millions the CEO of countrywide "made" and using it start fixing the economy - that would be a start in the right direction. If there are no consequences for taking advantage, what is going to stop if from happening agian?

Meena said...

Whoops, forgot to set it to email me when/if you responded.

CJ said...

I agree with the whole personal responsibility thing. I mean, particularly about our auto industry. I hope the auto industry gets its act together, but I also do like the idea of Obama's of appointing an Overseer. Someone who holds them accountable for every penny spent, and to see that the money is used for what it is purposed for.

The practise of putting money into pockets with holes, as my wife would put it, must end.

judith ellis said...

Meena - Thanks for stopping by and for your words. I agree with you about the millions CEO's received as their companies tanked. Perhaps with some consequences this will not happen again.

I do wonder, however, if there were consequences after the Savings and Loan scandal of the 80's and 90's. We probably asked the same question then regarding consequences and did nothing.

Meena, you can probably count on it that I will probably always respond. Discussion and communication, I value most.

judith ellis said...

CJ - Is this my Michigan college Buddy??? I was so happy that you found me and emailed me. Go Blue! Blessings, my friend. It was sooo good to hear from you.

Regarding personal responsiblity, we all have to be responsible for ourselves. No doubt! But I also believe in collective responsibility. We are indeed responsible for one another too.

CJ said...

Yes, Judith--

I am THE CJ from Maize and Blue Fame (or infamy--you choose.)

Glad to be here. I agree with you lots.

We can't look to a leader..we can't even look to God to help us if we are not willing to put forth an effort. God will help us, but we must actually step out on faith and do what we have to do.

Finding a job is difficult now. But as a husband, I must continue to look for work, and find something that I can do on my own to support myself, support my spouse. It won't fall into my lap.

Likewise with the economy...we can pray, we can ask for outside help--i.e., from the government. But we must do our part. We must learn from the past and make different choices. Ever heard of a person making the same choices year after year, expecting different results? How silly is that?

judith ellis said...

Bravo, CJ. I so remember our days at Michigan and how protective and kind you always were. You are my friend.

Best to you in your job search. Where are you in Michigan? Maybe I can help. I know a few folks. :-)

Email me, OK?