The notion of personal accountability drifted away from our social agenda in the past 50 years. It's time we take it back and make it a cornerstone of our society.
Our nation set up a safety net as a result of the Great Depression. We put in place social programs to help the needy, and this was a good and noble act. The nation got back on its feet and moved forward. Unfortunately, one of the unintended consequences of this safety net program was that we institutionalized the concept that no matter what we as individuals do, the government will be there to bail us out.
Blaming someone else has continued to be an American social epidemic. People blame government, they blame Big Business, blame coworkers or parents or their third-grade teachers. It seems there is always someone else to blame in this imperfect world, as though we are entitled to a hardship-free life. If there's a notion we'd like to see turned around and carried into the next century, it's one of personal accountability.
As we've seen from the results of the Great Society experiment of the 1960s, government cannot solve all of our problems, and people have been led astray if they believe this is government's true role. Yes, we must provide safety nets and we should be charitable as a people, but we also should set standards for personal responsibility, this being the only true inheritance we can give our children.
We're a fortunate generation living in fortunate times. We've seen the result of welfare-state mentality and have curtailed its insidious effects as gently and charitably as we could. At times we had to finally rip off the band-aid and let the sore heal in the fresh air. The result has been increased prosperity for our nation.
Sure, our country's problems are not solved; the truth is that they never will be. There is homelessness, mental illness, poverty, illiteracy and endless disabilities. There are problems associated with being born, being young, being parents, being old; these are the problems of mere mortals, a condition for which there is no earthly cure.
Hopefully we have learned in the past quarter century that the buck stops with our actions as individuals. Government has its role, but each of us, as members of this democracy, has the burden of citizenship, which includes being accountable for ourselves and our actions. As the adage goes: To whom much is given, much is expected. Let that be our motto for the 21st Century.
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