Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Blame Game and Being Responsible

Human beings today are more in tune with nature and life than earlier humans because of what we know today about our Earth, life and the Universe. Industrialization has brought comfort and luxury to many living in developing and developed nations and, in turn, has changed the way people think and act. Due to the progression of economies in these places, people are able to do more than feed and shelter their families but also to live a more prosperous and safe life under democratic laws, rights and freedoms. But, what do people think of each other as a mother or father, sister or brother, friend or stranger? Do we care to live in peace and harmony? My thoughts are that people do not see reality so clearly as to know that the person next to them is a person with thoughts and feelings too. That we are all similar in how we sense things in our environment and act on them. That although we all have different personal and academic experiences we are all human beings that care about life and being happy.

Even within families there seems to be an endless struggle to create harmony because there are many interests at hand that need to be accommodated. A sister may want to help her teenage brother who is struggling in school but is ignored by him because he feels that her intention is to treat him like he's still a child. Or a mother and father may want to help their daughter with her drug problem but she feels like her parents don't understand her. Why do even our own family members feel like they can't talk about their problems and come to a solution with the help of their own family? Problem solving and family advice are no match for our own self-interests. If we feel like we need or want something we won't let anyone or anything stop us in our tracks. We live in an individualistic society where every person works on their own to get what they want. Even having children has become obsolete because it conflicts with our view of being independent and confident. Our ancestors moved in groups in order to be safe and get tasks done efficiently. They relied on one another to accommodate their daily needs. Over time our ancestors decided to settle and form bonds between companions in order to protect and feed their young and each other. Humans have always worked together in concert to help each other and to survive.

How can we successfully guide our children if we cannot cooperate and communicate with one another? What can our children learn from this? They can learn that it is normal to act on self-interest and put little trust in anyone including their own parents and siblings. This is detrimental because it causes individuals to confide solely in their own thoughts and choices and blame others for their faults and poor decisions. In an individualistic society each person takes pride and joy in learning on their own and making decisions and rules for themselves regardless of what others have advised and experienced. They choose not to learn and grow from their past experiences and mistakes but instead they forget them in order to maintain confidence in themselves. They do not reflect on their past actions so they limit their ability to adapt to their environment and unknowingly take risks throughout their life. When they run into problems they are quick to blame others for their mistakes and, in turn, lose their sense of responsibility for their own choices and actions. They blame others because they feel that they could not have made a better choice and that their poor decision is a result of their helplessness and innocence. They feel this way because they believe that since they are alone in this world they have made the best decision that they could at the time and no one was there to stop them or guide them. In my opinion, it seems that these individuals are very quick to forget what others have advised so if there is a problem they feel less inclined to blame themselves. So in the end they make choices based on how they feel at the time and when a problem is encountered they want to blame others in order to relinquish their responsibility for their actions. They end up making poor decisions at the expense of others and themselves.

People who are quick to blame others lack responsibility and self-respect. They believe that in order to build and maintain their confidence and motivation they should never blame themselves or admit to their faults because they feel that it is unnecessary and only makes them look immature and dumb. They should not have to question their decisions because they feel so confident in themselves. Why should a poor decision stop them from feeling this way? Well, when an individual makes a poor decision it's important for them to admit their mistakes and accept the consequences of their actions in order to learn and be more responsible. They feel like they are protecting themselves from feeling ashamed and losing their confidence but what they are actually doing is protecting their selfish ego from being damaged at the cost of themselves and others. Responsibility is not a bad thing. It is a means of protecting oneself from obstacles that may hinder one's success in life. It is a means of reducing one's selfish ego so that they may use their brain capacity to problem solve and reflect in order to avoid encountering more problems. It is not a means of lowering one's self-confidence and pride.

Why are we afraid of being responsible citizens? It doesn't help that free and democratic societies encourage individuals to put responsibility in a large national government, which in itself shows little accountablity and integrity in its operations, and live as an individual and not as a family member or local citizen. I think that our communities need to set a better example for our youth and for each other. We need to be encouraged to find a balance between and among family, community, and individualism. Religion must be seen as insignificant and unnecessary for the unity among people. Unity can be established, not through adherence to a particular religion, but through care and respect for one another and for the environment. This can be accomplished by removing religion from government and education and replacing it with open discussions about all peoples and world issues (life), our local environment (nature), helping people that are in need without burdening others (ending suffering), and building love and respect for one another (empathy). People need to be encouraged to take responsibility into their own hands in order to create positive changes for themselves and, in turn, for others. When we are responsible, we do not act in self-interest but in all-interest. Our egos do not need to be bloated to live a prosperous life but we can gain self-confidence in learning from our past experiences and helping others based on what we have learned.

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