Responsibility As a Four Letter Word

When I was a kid, my stepdad rarely got on my case except if I did a half-ass job of something. And then he would ride me for it. In time, I translated this into taking pride and responsibility for the job I am doing. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

I met with an old college professor the other day for lunch and we were talking about the stock market. His broker works for AG Edwards, owned by Wachovia which will soon be owned by Wells Fargo or Citibank. He made a deal with his broker, who was bemoaning the value of his retirement (meaning stock price). My professor made a deal with his broker that he would buy at $10 per share. He did and the stock fell all the way to $1.80 before rebounding to $7. He bought again at $4. He said to me that he made a deal with his broker and my professor is a man of his word, even if it isn’t in his best interest. He took responsibility for his actions.

This is what he tells me is so great about the military, by the way. He was a Colonel in the Marines. It teaches young men to take responsibility for their actions.

I know an alcoholic. Her alcoholism is everyone’s fault but her own. Take responsibility for your actions and deal with it. Get therapy, get off the booze, get a job and do what you need to do. The first step is admitting you have a serious problem and you can’t handle it alone.

I know a husband and wife who had an abortion because they didn’t want any more kids. Try taking responsibility and use a freakin’ condom.

I know late 20-somethings who still live at home with their parents. Christ, move out and take responsibility for paying bills and having relations and, you know, being an adult.

And it feels like both Democrats and Republicans in my government are desperately spending their days figuring out how to relieve us of the responsibility for our actions. I don’t want my government to act like my parent. I don’t even want my parents acting like that any more.

I feel like I have lived my adult life in some alternative universe where only a minority of people take responsibility for their actions, responsibility for the loans they take and the money they earn and the decisions they make.

I have two young children and every time I look at them, I see the future. It seems very bright to me. But it is only bright if I can teach these girls how to be well adjusted, productive members of society. At least in my house, I will take responsibility for teaching my girls responsibility.