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I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Taking Responsibility

Last night, I read in the current issue of  The Week, that a man serving time in a Connecticut prison for vehicular manslaughter of a 14-year old boy is suing the child's parents for contributory negligence as the child hadn't been wearing a helmet while he was riding his bike.  Of course, the fact that the driver was going 80 mph at the time had 'nothing' to do with the child's death.

A dear friend of ours lost his leg some years back in an explosion at the plant where he worked.  He decided not to sue because he felt strongly that 'stuff happens'.  The plant had not been negligent, he said, and he realized that he could have been sitting on Easy Street for the rest of his life, but to place blame was just wrong.  The employer had met their responsibilities in taking care of his medical bills.

While not exactly polar in the scheme of things, I thought these two incidents somewhat related. So at what point do we place blame and at what point do we accept responsibility for our actions?  Our society heavily espouses the "it wasn't my fault because...." (fill in the appropriate excuse:  I was poor as a child, my parents abused me, I always felt like an outcast, my wife had just left me, et cetera) theory.  But it seems to me that doing so negates any responsibility.  It's like saying "I'm sorry, but..." which isn't an apology at all.

16 comments:

Linda Reeder said...

Taking responsibility isn't easy because it causes us to take a good look at our own shortcomings. But that is also why it is so necessary.

Purple Flowers said...

I totally agree with you. It isn't an apology at all.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kathy, Placing blame is what our society seems to do constantly... Nobody wants to take responsibility for their own actions.

I was interested to see the responses to my Pumpkin Bisque post... Some bloggers thought that I should have caused a stink and gotten the restaurant to pay for my cleaning and for another dinner or more... That sorta shocked me since I would never have done that.. Yes, I was the innocent victim --but why place blame, only to get something out of it??? It was an accident... The restaurant people were all very nice to me.

Those cases that you mentioned are very different from what I went through. The 2nd guy took the attitude that 'stuff happens'--just like I did.. That's more ME and the way I look at life.

The first case is an entirely different matter. It just shows how stupid our legal system can be in this country.... GADS!
Hugs,
Betsy

Tracy said...

Oh Kathy, don't even get me started on parents and their kids not taking responsibility for their actions...often as a teacher (and you know this!) we get blamed for a plethora of things and it starts so young...whatever happened to taking resonsibility for your own actions?
...having said that, totally a rhetoric question!
good post!

Kimberly said...

Very thought provoking, not only on an individual basis but also how that then affects corporate responsibility.

Happyone :-) said...

Amen!! I totally agree!!

Lena said...

I second that!

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

People not taking responsibility for their own actions is one of my pet peeves. People who want to sue over anything and everything is another.

Linda said...

I like this post. It is so true. In our society no one wants to take responsibility for anything. What are we teaching our children.

Bilbo said...

What a great post, and yet a sad commentary on our society. I feel a post of my own coming on...

Cobalt Violet said...

Amen Sister!

Janette said...

I get a chuckle out of a family member who will fight every speeding ticket (funny, she has many), argue that her child never lies (accused wrongfully once I understand- but multiple times- there is a problem), has a great accountant and pays little tax...but when she was sued the world comes to an end.She was wronged! The world is the way it is because we let it be that way. Sad.

George said...

I heard about the case in Connecticut, and could hardly believe it. I don't understand why that suit wasn't thrown out immediately.
I can't help but think that if we would each accept responsibility for our actions (or lack of actions), we would all be better off.
Thanks for a great post.

jane said...

don´t get me started...

Deb said...

Kathy, I don't know how I missed this post until now! I could write a book on the foolish and expensive legal battles that are draining the profits of well-run businesses like the one I've worked for the last 22 years. Our litigious society will someday pay the price of our no-fault life style! We opened a brand new facility in 2005; we are still enduring law suits for three "slip and falls" in different areas of the building. Not a single incident had any witneses. One of them is suing for her broken Rolex which she claims is a result of her fall (on a dry, indoor, non-skid flat surface). We caught a vendor stealing the parts from our inventory to sell back to us that same afternoon. We sent him packing, but he mailed an invoice to us. When we refused to pay, he took us to court. He won and we had to pay up...for items he stole from us and "sold" back to us. It goes on and on! Outrageous. Wow, sorry I ranted...your post hit a hot button, I guess!

TAG said...

What the "it isn't my fault" crowd fails to see is that blaming others is the same as giving control to others. It puts the power to control everything you do into the hands of someone else.

"I'm fat and it is all McDonalds fault." This puts McDonalds in charge of your very life. Or rather, it seems to do so.

For some, having someone else in control is comfortable. It makes failure easy to accept because it isn't their fault.

We both know this sort of logic is so much hogwash. How much better life is when you refuse to put others in charge. How much better when we not only accept responsibility but get to take credit for our successes.

TAG