Last night on Sixty Minutes, they did an indepth interview with a young basketball star named LeBron James. Now, if you have read any of the columns I’ve written over these past twenty five years, you will notice a dearth of discussions on sports. The reason is simple. I don’t know anything about sports. I know this may come as a surprise to you, but I’ve been focusing on other subjects for most of my life.
Anyway, this interview was refreshing and most of all, hopeful. It showed us a young man who rose up from a life of poverty and has made something of himself as well as those around him. Although he is only twenty four, he is already looking past his sports days and what he wants to do when that time comes. I applaud him for his efforts and his vision.
The one thing I did not hear from him was a ‘ I am a victim’ attitude. He took responsibility for his actions, for the hardships that he suffered in his earlier years and shrugged them off as just part of life. In my opinion, this is a rare thing in our society today.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of listening to the chronic whiners of the day as they attempt to convince me that all of the troubles in their lives are somehow my fault.
I’ve got news for you. I have troubles of my own. All God’s children have troubles. (I heard this somewhere)The old adage of the squeaky wheel gets the grease is never more apparent than it is today. Not a day goes by that we aren’t subjected to the ‘ woe is me’ complaints by someone who failed to take personal responsibility for their own actions. Someone robs a bank and then complains about the method in which they were arrested. Someone crosses the border illegally and then complains because they were deported. Someone is sentenced to a drug rehabilitation clinic and is upset because they can’t see their friends for a month or so. Another person is sent to jail for years for stealing someone’s life savings (think Madoff) and they are indignant because they can’t be out on bail using the money they stole as security. Another person loses a job because they faked their resume and they get mad and feel put out upon while saying… ‘ Everyone does it.’ My mother and yours as well used to say If all of your friends jumped off a cliff’ would you as well
No, friends we have made a lack of personal responsibility a science as well as an art form in this country. Nothing that we do or that happens to us can be traced to our fault. We are absolved of any guilt for any situation that ever occurs. Mass murderers can stand up in a court of law and proclaim to the world, without smiling, that the reason they went on a rampage and killed multiple people is the fact that they didn’t have a birthday party when they were ten or eleven years old. God help us all.
The drunk driver who tries to drive home and smashes into another car killing all of its occupants has no trouble finding a lawyer to sue the bartender or the restaurant who kept serving him alcohol. The courts are full of these type of law suits where the thought of personal responsibility is thrown out of the window. When I grew up all of the swimming pools had diving boards, you ever see one on a backyard pool today’ Nope, I didn’t think so. The pool makers stopping selling them since they were being sued so often for the reckless behavior of swimmers. When I was a kid I knew better than to try a double back flip. Does this make me perfect’ No, of course not. I did stupid things just like everyone else. The difference to me was that when I made a mistake and got caught, I knew in my heart it was my fault and I was responsible for my actions. All of us know in our hearts what is right and what is wrong. We know when we hurt someone or do something that causes pain or grief. What we have done as a society is to allow those feelings to be pushed aside and be placed at the feet of someone other than ourselves.
The all knowing government cannot do this for us. The schools cannot do this for us. Religion cannot do this for us. Only our family can do this for us. Our families have to stand up and take responsibility for the children and instill them with a sense of personal responsibility such as that in someone like LeBron James. These are the kinds of role models our country needs today, not glorifying drug dealers or the rich who made their wealth by some illegal methods. We need to get back to basics.and stay there.