Responsibility

As I walked home from work today, I was reminded (yet again) of how we are as a society so quick these days to pass the buck. We don’t, as a society, want to bear responsibility for our own actions.

A while ago, I wrote a blog post about this subject, inspired by a much more articulate piece than I could hope to write, and whilst the main focus of this post is not about as serious a topic as before (not remotely), it touches upon the same theme.

On the way to and fro the train station I cross a fairly busy road and in doing so, I usually press the button and wait for the little green man to appear. This, to me, is basic road safety and I will quite happily wait for the light to change, rather than run the risk of being hit by a car. I’m pretty sure we’d all agree, the latter isn’t an option.

So, I’m approaching this road and the lights. They are current red for pedestrians and green for cars – no biggie, press the button and they’ll change in a few moments. In front of me are two blokes, one of whom has a dog on a leash. The dog is tugging at the leash and tugs hard enough to nearly get squashed by an oncoming car. The man holding the leash then starts to berate the driver of the car (who was already heading off and probably didn’t even hear the guy ranting away), saying ‘it’s a dog, they do that’ and ‘you can stop your car easily’.

I had to bite my tongue, but mate, the traffic light was green for the car, so he had every right to keep going, and you should have kept a better handle on your dog. It was either not properly trained, not restrained enough, or a combination of both, and it darted out suddenly, affording little warning to the motorist who had right of way.

This guy (who struck me as being quite feckless anyway) would probably have blamed the driver had there actually been a collision, and as it was, he was blaming the driver for the near-miss – in other words, he was passing on the responsibility for it all on the motorist – he couldn’t or wouldn’t bear it himself. His knee-jerk reaction unfortunately typifies today’s world – we want to find someone else to blame for a mistake we make, and that’s wrong.

Why are we so quick to try and absolve ourselves these days? At what stage did we decide we should have it easy with regard to our accountability? There’s been a gradual but noticeable shift toward ‘blame culture’, where a problem means we have to hold someone else responsible – case in point, see my post earlier today regarding the guy who didn’t plan ahead, but still expected something out of us. He didn’t want to take the heat for his failure to organise himself properly, and instead, expected something for nothing.

When did we get so selfish as to assume we are not the keepers of our own responsibilities, and that instead, everyone else should pick up after us? What was the tipping point that has led us to this point, where someone can almost lose control of their dog and yet it’s someone else’s fault if there’s an accident? We have forgotten what it means to govern our own behaviour.

I do see a lot of good in humanity, but sometimes, it’s hard to find. We still have a lot to learn about how to treat each other. I hope we make it.

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