Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In America, responsibility is a 4-letter-word.

Americans love having the freedom to choose. We like to choose what cars to drive, what homes to build, what products to use; choice, choice, choice. We don’t want to live like some Europeans already do, to be required to live by some responsible guidelines, or to pay anything more than we feel we should for the freedoms we have.

But we do not want to take responsibility for the consequences we create. We want to buy cheap Wal-Mart crap, but we don’t want to take any responsibility for China’s growing effect on the climate due to industry. We want to drive our Hummers or our Escalades but we complain about the inflated fuel prices which are a direct result of our bottomless consumption. We all have an effect on this world through our activities, but we want to live like we don’t. In truth, we don’t want to take responsibility.

Every one of us has one. Every choice we make, every thing we buy, every tree we hack down to build a McMansion where it was… has an effect. We deny that there is climate change; we declare that we don’t have to limit our emissions as long as places like India and China don’t have to, we back away from initiatives for positive change because we don’t want our convenience and our apathy to be threatened. Let someone else do it—they can support us, make the changes, and we can just keep on doing what w e always have. We don’t want change, we don’t want growth in a better way, and we sure as hell don’t want responsibility. We wage wars to maintain the status quo – to protect the oil assets that keep America running as it is; SUVs and all. Groups of us will rail against new ideas and solutions… and find all the excuses in the world not to just go for using alternate means of energy; no to wind, no to solar… no, no, no! What we have works, we cry!

We point fingers at other places. At Iraq, at Afghanistan, at India, at Russia, at China… We try to avert the world’s attention to other wrongdoers so our own trespasses won’t be pointed out.

We used to be the leading nation in innovation and change. Now places like Denmark and England are putting us to shame. We’ve gone from being forward-thinking to spoiled and entitled. We want to sacrifice nothing, not even the slightest thing—all for the sake of convenience, unnecessary comforts and materialism.

I’m ashamed of this country. We need to stop acting like kids, trying to avoid having to do our chores. We should be acting like Mom again, arms crossed, brow furrowed, pointing sternly at the big pile of trash the world has made, demanding it get taken out immediately.

Sadly, we don’t even act that way with our own kids these days, do we? I think that’s a direct reflection on our society as a whole—this aversion to personal responsibility. Starts small.

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