Chad T Lane
28 October, 2013
Dr Jim Ghormley
Most parents do everything in their power to teach their children responsibility. Everyone can recall early memories of a parent, teacher or authority figure trying to train him or her to be responsible. Most children are learning responsibility well before they learn the word “responsible.” A child who can pick up his or her toys on his or her own initiative is learning responsibility, and he or she does not even know it. Without individual accountability, the floodgates are open for people to blame one another when things go south. Everyone must be responsible for himself or herself because when everyone is responsible for everything, no one is responsible for anything.
According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/responsibility (2013), Meriam-Webster defines responsibility as the following:
1) The state of being the person who caused something to happen
2) A duty or task that you are required or expected to do
3) Something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.
Personal Responsibility simply means narrowing the scope of all these concepts down to the individual level. While I was on active duty in the Marine Corps, it was obvious to me that the concept of personal responsibility seems to be nonexistent, if not taboo altogether. Anytime someone made a “chucklehead move” like getting a DUI or other liberty incident, the individual Marine’s chain of command was to blame. To be fair, in some cases these things are preventable, however, nothing can change that everyone has his or her own mind and can make his or her own decisions. Although I believe strongly that everyone must keep his or her own house in order, I do believe in teamwork. Working together to accomplish tasks works well, just so long as each team member pulls his or her own weight. Society as whole benefits when each individual person lives a responsible lifestyle. A good example of this is airplanes, while the flight attendant is explaining safety precautions; he or she always tells everyone to put on his or her own mask before helping anyone else. It is not prudent to expect someone to help someone with something that he or she has not even done for him or herself. As a young corporal in the Marine Corps, I was baptized by fire in the duties and responsibilities of a Non-Commissioned Officer. As a sergeant, I had to supervise corporals, or manage the managers, in other words. A sergeant has entirely too much on his or her plate to supervise every function of his or her squad or work section personally. Here, sergeants delegate authority to corporals to ensure tasks are completely thoroughly. If a sergeant assigns a platoon a handful of tasks with no structure, there is no expectation of good results because no one is personal responsible to complete the work. Basic training, however; turns this concept completely upside down. Every morning, recruits get up out of bed before they even realize they are awake, count off, get dressed, and fix their racks. If one recruit is too slow, misunderstands the command or makes a mistake, the entire platoon may pay for his or her shortcomings. In this instance, each recruit has a personal responsibility to square him or herself away in order for the rest of the recruits to avoid punishment. Texting while driving is another example of why “collective responsibility” does not work. While several states impose fines for texting while driving, there have been instances in which the text message sender is blamed because he or she was somehow supposed to know the recipient was driving. Bartenders, pubs and nightclubs are held liable are threatened with civil penalties if one of their patrons becomes intoxicated and gets behind the wheel. The three examples above are good illustrations of why when everyone is responsible for everything; no one is responsible for anything.