Whiting column: Victim or victor, it’s our choice

Bryan Whiting
Personal Responsibility

It’s not a systemic or societal issue; it’s an individual issue.

It’s become common to blame society for our problems and demand societal or systemic change to solve them. We forget that society can only do what we individually choose to do since we comprise society. The only systemic change required is a return to accepting individual responsibility.

Regardless the issue, resolution is only possible when each of us takes command and does the right thing. When racism or discrimination of any kind is present it isn’t systemic or societal, it’s an individual prejudice. Some feel a corporation or a business can be racist, but contrary to what the Supreme Court may feel, the corporation is not an individual, but a function of the persons owning and operating it. Any change must come from within.

The partisanship making our political entities ineffective isn’t a legislative body or societal issue, but an issue with individual legislative behavior. Change will only occur when each legislator chooses to change and vote based on conscience, what is right and best for our country rather than the dictates of ego, monetary contributor or party.

We tend to blame society for our economic situation. We blame the haves because we feel we’re the have-nots. Too often we feel entitled because of another’s possessions. It’s tempting to feel this perceived inequality isn’t fair and it or the necessary resources should be given to us. However, taking from one and giving to another doesn’t change the factors creating the perception.

We spend too much energy focusing on the rich. Sure, they can acquire and do things we can’t, and we may feel it’s unfair. But it’s a waste of time and effort. We’re better off focusing our efforts on the strategies, the work which will earn us what we desire.

We aren’t entitled to be rich, but we are entitled to do the work and take advantage of the opportunities our country provides, which people from other country’s desire and immigrate to utilize. We tend to feel society should change our economic situation, but it can’t and shouldn’t be expected to beyond opportunity. It’s up to us.

If we desire more money, work more. Employers and statistics confirm there isn’t any shortage of available positions. We aren’t improving our economic position or future by desiring unemployment benefits to increase. There is value and pride beyond compensation associated with all work, regardless of its nature. If we choose not to work, then we are accepting this inequality by choice. It’s work; it’s not going skiing or sitting on the couch eating potato chips. That is ours, not society’s choice.

Holding ourselves personally accountable is difficult. We must be tough on ourselves and not naïve. Addictions to alcohol, smoking and drugs are a good example. They are a disease, but we must acknowledge they are disease by choice and cost money. It’s difficult, but if we don’t ever take a drink, smoke or do drugs, addiction won’t occur.

As an educator, I had students whose lives were subject to unbelievably difficult and unfair hardships. Whether it be divorced, addicted, unsupportive or unemployed parents, family financial responsibilities too young, or whatever negative situation imaginable, I soon learned the only way to help them was to tell them the truth. “You caught a bad break in life that wasn’t your fault. You can use it as a valid excuse your entire life and no one will blame you. But if you want things to be better, use it as motivation instead of an excuse. You can let it define you and determine your life or relegate it to history and move on.”

We must do the same.

There are plenty of available negative circumstances and excuses. It’s easy to think we’re victims in some manner and even desire to be labeled as such. Some may be justified, but it doesn’t accomplish anything because it usually involves a characteristic over which we didn’t have control such as age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, parents, and the like. But within that group there are numerous examples of those who succeeded regardless; that took command. Some use it as an excuse for failure when the only failure was to not develop and execute a plan. Life isn’t a spectator sport. Using “victim” as an excuse won’t make things change or get better.

If we label ourselves a victim, it’s too easy to feel we’re entitled to something from the government or other people. It’s not their responsibility. We must make the changes necessary to implement the strategies required to develop the lives we desire. Then we are the victor not the victim.

It’s our personal responsibility to be the victor.

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

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