The Rebirth of Responsibility

Featured image by m o n c h o o h c n o m. Follow the link for more of this artist’s work.

When we outsource our decision making, we also outsource our liberty. When we depend on others to make our decisions for us, we give up our ability to decide what is done and how things are done. It is like when you ask your parent, spouse, or coworker to do something for you. How many times did you regret the end result?

We are confronting a reality in which our desire for other people to “do something” is now having direct impacts on us or people that we care for. During this pandemic, we clamored for the government to intervene, for our politicians to save us from this virus, for our scientists to make a cure or solve this crisis. We responded out of fear. And our politicians responded just like we did. They didn’t want to make a decision to weigh the options, to examine the trade-offs, and to make a decision and accept the consequences for whatever happened.

And what we get as a society when we tell the government to do something for us is a series of lockdowns, ranging from the relatively mild request to wear a mask in public to the “insistence” that people stay inside their homes for 10 days in Newark, or Californians having a state imposed curfew. We are being pushed as a society to accept the prodding, poking, and demands of the government, and people are living with a larger and larger sense of uncertainty that the things that they took for granted (jobs, income, a social life, freedom to travel, freedom to speak unpopular opinions) are no longer a given. People are living in a miasmatic haze, trying desperately to make it through the day and make ends meet.

I have some hope that people are waking up to the idea that the government is not good at its job, that they are slow, bumbling, and that their reach is far wider and more intrusive than what the moment calls for. Most of the people (on both sides), are interested in getting back to their lives, their jobs, their friends and family. Most people are tired, and we’ve run short on grace and patience, and we’ve grown short-tempered and frustrated. None of this is helped when we see our leaders ignoring the same restrictions that they impose on the rest of us, and for many who have had to deal with the death of a loved one or friend, who couldn’t say goodbye to their parent or child, who was dismissed from a hospital waiting room while their loved one died alone, this becomes a breaking point.

So what do we do? Well, the first thing is to figure out things for ourselves. Assessment is the first step. In terms of the virus, we must figure out our individual risk and what our daily activities means in terms of risk. We must take back our responsibility, know our rights, and be responsible for our own existence. And by doing so, we rid ourselves of the dependence we have upon the nameless and faceless unaccountable people living in lands far, far away. We must make our local governments accountable and less dependent on state and federal funds. It will be rough, but in the end it will be worth it.

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