Whiting column: Be accountable for the things we are thankful for | PostIndependent.com

Whiting column: Be accountable for the things we are thankful for

Bryan Whiting

Lately, we seem to be focusing more on what we don’t have than what we do. Things may not be perfect or what we might ultimately desire.

At this holiday time, however, it’s important to be thankful for the privileges and opportunities our country provides its citizens; most of whom are the envy of the rest of the world. But that is not enough. Individually, we need to acknowledge and accept the responsibilities that accompany these same privileges and opportunities.

Initially, we must be thankful for our opportunity to be alive and live our life, which is what makes the other aspects relevant. Our responsibility is to not deny anyone else the same opportunity.

Thankful for the opportunity of a free high school education. Education is the No. 1 route out of poverty and facilitates the pursuit of the career of our choice. Our responsibility is to not only support schools but emphasize education not only for ourselves but our children. This includes not only English literacy but behavior.

Thankful for the aforementioned opportunity to choose our career and its inherent satisfactions, which is less common in other countries than we might think. Our responsibility is to actively develop this career, so we don’t have to settle for the job that finds us. We aren’t entitled to this career without acquiring the requisite skills and demonstrating work ethic; both at a high level.

Thankful for a higher level of equality than most countries. Our responsibility is to strive for total integration and assimilation. This involves viewing others at the same level of equality we would desire, avoiding self-segregation and not making decisions based on race, religion, gender or any other label we may generate.

Thankful for our ability to own property that cannot be seized by the government or others without due process. Our responsibility is to own it safely, which includes insuring against the possibility of its causing harm to others.

Thankful for a country that is relatively safe, both domestically and internationally. We effectively supply the national defense for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe. Domestically, our responsibility is to not tolerate, accept or ignore the presence of crime. Internationally, it’s our responsibility to support our troops before, during and after all missions.

Thankful for a country that cares. We provide social and welfare benefits to citizens in need as well as the highest level of humanitarian aid to foreign countries. Our responsibility is to work to minimize our having to utilize these benefits. This facilitates fulfillment of our responsibility to be generous and charitable to others, given the caveat of avoiding doing so in a manner which enables laziness or other non-productive habits. It also requires our actively joining and participating in local civic organizations which work for the benefit of our respective communities.

Thankful for freedom of religion. Our responsibility is to not just tolerate but encourage others to believe and worship as they see fit, as we develop our own faith.

Thankful for freedom of speech and expression. Our responsibility, if we truly believe in freedom of speech, is to not only refuse to censor others whose views may not correspond to ours but fight for their freedom to say them. It means we cannot use adverse labeling as a tool against those with differing views. Instead, we must vehemently pursue ours in a reasonable manner. We must focus on the ideas or the words, not the people saying them. If we defeat the validity of their ideas, the people will disappear.

Thankful for the availability of quality medical care. Sure, the cost seems excessive and the health insurance issue seem difficult; but care is available. Twice as many people come to our country for care compared to our citizens who choose to go elsewhere. Our responsibility is to do our part by adopting a healthy lifestyle, purchasing the level of insurance we can afford, and not buying or selling drugs. We must remember that drugs are the same as any other commodity. They will cease to be present if no one buys them.

Thankful for our freedom of movement and choice. Our responsibility is to take command of our own lives and take responsibility for the good and bad decisions we make in that regard.

All these privileges and opportunities require we continue to promote the economic tenets of capitalism and the procedures of our democratic republic that have made us successful. We can and should continue to make small tweaks and improvements, but to abandon or work against what has been the reason for our country’s success is foolish. Our responsibility is to pay the taxes we owe, while working to assure our elected officials don’t feel they have “carte blanche” to take what we have earned.

When we accept and take advantage of the privileges and opportunities our country has provided, we have a personal responsibility to honor and respect our country, its pledge, flag and constitution.

Even with the presence of these opportunities, “you have to get off your butt to make a buck.”

Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than by government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: bwpersonalresponsibility@gmail.com

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