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Freedom and Responsibility

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What is it to be Free?

To be free is to be responsible

To be free is to be powerful

With great power comes great responsibility!!

In the United States we are free to be intolerant
Our responsibility is to be humane

In the United States we are free to pursue happiness
Our responsibility is to be ethical

In the United States we are free to elect our politicians from the local to the national level.
Our responsibility is to participate actively.

In the United States we are free to have our own opinion
Our responsibility is to listen to others.

To be free is not to be made to feel guilty by the food police
To be free is not to be vilified by the thought police
To be free is not to be told what to think and who to tolerate.

To be free is not to be made to support the lifestyles and laziness of others.

Freedom is choice
Responsibility is the acceptance of the consequence of choice.
Poverty is a choice
Powerlessness is a choice
To be a victim is a choice.

Freedom takes hard work, long hours, boot-strapping, concerted effort, and participation.

Fortunately, in the United States the majority of the population is still responsible enough to understand freedom.

I don’t want to live in a country that pays for everything; that doesn’t require me to sweat and worry; that asks me to subsidize the behavior and lifestyle of others; and doesn’t allow me a voice if my voice isn’t popular.

Choose Freedom!!
Choose Responsibility!!
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Darrin F. Coe, MA
Author and weblogger
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About Darrincoe

  • BillB

    >In the United States we are free to be intolerant
    Our responsibility is to be humane<

    I’m just curious, considering the recent debate in these parts, where the aforementioned freedom to be intolerant ends and responsibility to be humane begins, regarding homosexuality?

    Now I’m not looking for another full blown debate. Just check a few of the other recent articles for that.

    Just curious about the shape of your idea of freedom.

    Who could argue with freedom? The problem is when painted with broad brushstrokes the devil is usually in the details.

    I sense a few of those pesky demons lurking around the corners of your article. Maybe I’ll be surprised.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Doesn’t look like this particular post is explicitly pushing the intolerant agenda. Hardly seems fair to saddle him with yet another debate on gay rights. There’s too much of that going on here already.

    Dave

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    There’s too much of that going on here already.

    I agree Dave, although we should point out that before ‘gay activism’ gets the blame for the imbalance of topics, who are the ones who bring it up. There have been about 6 or more ‘save us from the homosexuals’ threads here in as many days.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    True enough, Steve – which is why we have plenty of threads to debate the issue on without adding it to other threads.

    Dave

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Poverty is a choice seldom made by the poor. More often than not, that choice is imposed upon them by others.

    Powerlessness and victimization, likewise, are more frequently imposed by the choices of others than freely chosen by those at the receiving end.

    The vast majority of the poor in this world are working their fingers to the bone, providing the goods and services that make wealth worth having for the very few of us who have any.

    The vast majority of the powerless and victimized would gladly give up all the benefits of pity they might gain from that condition.

    This manifesto of “responsibility” has a sandy foundation because it spends so much energy attempting to place the blame on the people with the least power to change anything in the world.

  • SFC SKI

    While I’ll grant your point, Victor, I think there is the issue of “victimization” in the sense of blaming everyone else for your misfortune.

    Th recent issue of the Amrican nterprise had an interesting article on “one nation under therapy”.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Blaming everyone else for your misfortunes is an equal opportunity character flaw. It is found just as often, and perhaps even more often, among the rich and powerful as among the poor and powerless.

    This is why any realistic manifesto of responsibility must spend at least as much energy devising ways to get the rich off government welfare as it spends berating the poor for their comparatively meager share of tax funded subsidies.

  • Nancy

    Shoot – the rich invented it: witness Henry VIII’s whining about “she [Anne B] MADE me do it!”

  • Shark

    Oh boy. Yet another mindless jingo writer added to Blogcritics!

    re: “Poverty is a choice…”

    um. Darrin, FUCK YOU — from all the poor on earth.

    Asshole.

    PS: …and what VictorPlenty said, too.

  • HW Saxton

    If you are not older than twelve years
    of age then I’ll forgive you for this,uh
    posting.

    However if you are above twelve years
    old… this is just fuckin’ pathetic.

    PS: What Shark said!

  • Nancy

    Poverty is NEVER a choice. I hope you are never put in the horrible position of having it thrust on you, unasked for and unwilling, and finding out the hard way it isn’t voluntary. Unless you’re some kind of monastic under vows of ‘poverty’. Very ignorant & arrogant statement, to assert people choose poverty, but typical of the entire attitude of smug and overprivileged persons everywhere.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Of course poverty itself is never chosen. Sometimes it occurs as the end result of bad choices. Not nearly so often as certain pundits would have us believe, but often enough to be significant. Personal responsibility must be part of any real solution to poverty.

    However, bad choices made by the poor are rarely the sole cause of poverty.

    No balanced solution to the issue will result from condescending attempts to increase the sense of personal responsibility among poor people. Most poor people already have a strong sense of personal responsibility. In many cases this is a large part of what keeps them poor, because they refuse to seek wealth through illegal or immoral means.

    At the same time, many rich people become rich precisely because they have the skill (and the lack of conscience) needed to deflect responsibility for their debts and expenses onto others.

    The need for a greater sense of responsibility is found in every social class of our society.

  • SFC SKI

    But how do we bring Americans up with a sense of responsibility in this day and age?

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    We could stop glorifying wealth gained by immoral means, and stop demonizing honest people merely because they happen to be poor. That might make a good start.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I have an essay on this same topic that I wrote several years ago, and I was thinking about posting it to BC, but after thinking about this article a bit more I fear it may have permanently discredited what ought to be a pretty reasonable position to take.

    Dave

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Mr. Coe, you raise interesting thoughts. So here goes:

    To be free is to be responsible
    To be free is to be powerful
    With great power comes great responsibility!!

    Yep, freedom comes with responsibility and accountability. Unfortunately, we Americans seem to have forgotten how precious our freedom really is. Freedom does foster power but in our system power is measured economically.

    In the United States we are free to be intolerant
    Our responsibility is to be humane
    In the United States we are free to pursue happiness
    Our responsibility is to be ethical

    Intolerance certainly is allowed in our system. It’s not ‘politically correct’ or desired but with freedom does come intolerance. All of mankind has a responsibility to be humane. This is something that is not limited to America. I totally agree that we have a responsibility to be ethical. Unfortunately ethics is something that our society seems to ignore. The teaching of ethics must begin in the home and be supported in the educational system. I am a strong supporter of teaching ethics, values and citizenship in our schools. Now before the liberals start screaming about what I’ve just said, I suggest you check out my links. I’m not talking family values, religious doctrine, etc. I am talking about a basic common sense approach to promoting ethical behavior, citizenship and a free discussion in America’s classrooms about the current state of political affairs.

    In the United States we are free to elect our politicians from the local to the national level.
    Our responsibility is to participate actively.

    I agree. I think that the first thing we need to do is change the election model. A complete and unbiased overhaul of the American electoral system is something that we, as good citizens, should demand. Campaign finance reform, stringent regulation of lobbyists and special interests and the length of campaign periods are great places to begin. We’re not giving our citizens very much to work with. I honestly believe that the lack of voter participation in this country has a direct correlation to the lack of citizenship education in our schools.

    Poverty is a choice
    Powerlessness is a choice

    Wow, talk about Pandora’s Box. Poverty is not a choice, my friend. Some people know nothing different. I’ll admit that some choose to live in poverty, but for the majority I refuse to believe that this is the case. A kid in the inner city doesn’t have the same opportunities that a kid in an affluent suburb would have. There is no standard for education, there’s no economic reward in it.

    To be a victim is a choice.
    Mr. Coe, tell that to the thousands of people affected by the 9-11 tragedy. Tell it to the mothers of Iraqi boys who have been killed in a war that should never have taken place. Tell that to the families of America’s greatest generation who never had the chance to bury their loved ones in their own soil. Tell that to the families of Christians who were slaughtered in Rome. Tell that to the ‘non-believers’ who were slaughtered by the Church during the Inquisition. Tell that to the Jews and others who were slaughtered at Hitler’s command. To be victimized is not a choice, sir, it’s a curse.

    Freedom takes hard work, long hours, boot-strapping, concerted effort, and participation.
    Fortunately, in the United States the majority of the population is still responsible enough to understand freedom.

    Absolutely. Freedom does take hard work and sacrifice. But we’ve raised several generations since World War II that don’t seem to be able to process this fact. Just under 60% of registered voters turned out in November, 2004. That’s the highest turnout since 1968. I have to disagree that the majority of the population is still responsible enough to understand freedom. Mr. Coe, the majority of Americans don’t even know how our system of government operates. They live and die by the sound byte.

    I don’t want to live in a country that pays for everything; that doesn’t require me to sweat and worry; that asks me to subsidize the behavior and lifestyle of others; and doesn’t allow me a voice if my voice isn’t popular.
    Well, Mr. Coe, you’re subsidizing the behavior and lifestyle of many elected officials who don’t give a damn about doing what’s fair. You have a voice regardless of your popularity. That’s a precious benefit of our freedom. But face facts, sir. Those who have the economic advantage are heard more often than those who are crying for our help. I don’t want to live in a country that pays for everything but I do want to live in a country that takes care of its own first.

  • dee

    So you say……Freedom is choice
    Responsibility is the acceptance of the consequence of choice.
    Poverty is a choice
    Powerlessness is a choice
    To be a victim is a choice…when one is born into it, how are they chosing it?

    To say poverty is a choice is totally wrong but for those who say there is not way out of it, they are wrong too. There is a way. It is called struggling and working your ass off until you have enough money to get the education you need to get ahead in this world.

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    It all comes down to the Almighty dollar, doesn’t it? Give our kids a proper education and they’ll have the skills they need to generate a decent income which could be applied to higher education.

  • dee

    To Silas Kain…when he talks about being a victim, I do not believe he is talking about those who are victims of war or of the 9/11 tragedy. I took it to mean those who make the choice to stay in poverty or in bad situtations. Some people do chose to play the victim instead of finding ways to get out of the situations they are in. Such as the young mother who has three or four kids and no job and she is popping out another baby for the state to take care of. Or the crack addict who choses that way of life rather than getting the help he needs to kick the habit and get his life back on track. Or the street person who refuses to work and make a better life for himself and that family he may have left behind. Or how about the father who walked out on the kids he left behind for a life on the streets? There are many who are more than willing to give you and I a sob story about how they got there. Yet they will not do what they have to to change. Those are the people who do not have to be victims…

  • http://www.biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I guess I was being too general in my response to Mr. Coe. You’re right. There are victims who clearly don’t need to be victims and choose to remain that way. It all goes back to education in my book.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I agree that education is the key, but more than just the education in the schools, it’s what kids are taught at home. If they see a family which is broken and dysfunctional and parents who are underachieving and have given up or opted for drugs and alcohol, that teaches them the same irresponsibility and doesn’t give them the fundamental lesson that if they want success they need to take charge of their own life and create that success. Without positive examples to look to in their own lives that’s extremely hard to learn.

    Dave

  • BillB

    Mr. Coe, paging Mr. Coe. It’s bad form to post and ignore. Now it has yet to be a full day but some of these comments deserve some attention, especially when you’ve taken some controversial and vague positions.

    Seems you got some ‘splainin’ to do.

  • BillB

    RE Comment 21

    Dave, your definitely onto something. My wife teaches 3rd. grade in Da Bronx and more than anything the parent that is motivated and capable of taking a proactive role, from as early a point as possible in the childs education, greatly enhances that childs ability to excel.

    Not exactly a major revelation as much as common sense but it’s very disheartening to see how few children have this kind of support.

    So many are from broken families and depressed economic conditions.

    Where and how do you start to break the cycle?

    It’s a huge task.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>Not exactly a major revelation as much as common sense but it’s very disheartening to see how few children have this kind of support.< <

    In some areas the schools are trying to step in and provide the support, but I find that pretty troubling. The idea of a government institution providing the life model for a kid is disturbing at the very least.

    >>So many are from broken families and depressed economic conditions.

    Where and how do you start to break the cycle?<<

    The best thing in the world, from what I’ve seen, is the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. It’s not nearly as well publicized today as it once was, but it does really remarkable things to help kids from broken homes. So do things like scouting, midnight basketball leagues and other outreach programs which put successful people from similar backgrounds together with kids to provide them with role models.

    Dave

  • SFC SKI

    Which all comes back to people being involved in their communities. I am as guilty as anyone else here, but how many posters spend more time “doing” something rather than playing pundit here?

  • Darrin Coe

    Wow!! I did not think my post would cause this much ruckus. what great debate and comments!

    let me give you abit of background. I with people from the worst and sometimes best backgrounds in my state as a mental health therapist, with both men and women. So my positions come not from theory but from the minds, speech and behavior of those who’ve lived some seriously nasty lives.

    what is or is not a choice is a state of mind. You can have no money but if you chose not to be in poverty then you are not. I’m not talking about denial I’m talking about a choice that frees a person to live life abundantly though they may not have the bountiful trappings of life that others believe are necessary.

    there’s been quite abit discussed about victimization and whether it’s a choice or not. Victimization is a state of mind. Some of the women I’ve worked with come from backgrounds that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, yet they never consider themselves victims. When you chose not to be a victim regardless of what happens to your physical body you disempower your victimizer. This is what happened with 9/11. We as a nation chose not to be victims and thus disempowered those that would strike against us.

    I’ve met people from countries that are war-torn and devastated and they chose not to be victims regardless of circumstance, they chose not to be poverty bound regardless of circumstance, and they chose to fight, survive and thrive regardless of circumstance.

    For some reason or another many folks dislike assigning responsibility when circumstance appear overwhelming. It’s much easier to cite poor environment, unstable family situation, abusive parents, brain damage, or mental illness. While all of these contribute to a person’s situation in life they do not dictate it and a person can chose to overcome.

    Now, one last piece concerning a comment targeted at getting the rich off of government welfare. I think the difference between the well off who use the government to subsidize and the not so well off who receive a pittance from the government is that the well off have used legislators, policy creators, and the legal systems to create beneficial circumstance; they’ve participated in government (and yes I know some of them illegally so) while the not so well off have chose to be passive recipients of enabling programs which in many cases lead to disempowerment of the human spirit.

    In the end there is work to be done at both ends of the spectrum but it does not change my basic premise that responsibility in all areas is a choice.

    thanks so much everyone for the great discussion.

    stay strong
    Darrin Coe

  • Nancy

    Dave, I’m intrigued: what were you postulating in your essay, that this blog should “discredit” it?

    God knows what it will take to re-educate Americans back to a sense of civic responsibility and ethics; from what I can see, most of us have become the Marching Morons, unable to fix our attentions on anything for more than a few seconds, in soundbytes, as Silas says. TV is responsible for that, as, I suspect are processed foods, with all the additives they throw in so lavishly to prolong shelf life, add flavor, color, etc. Also, at this point, we are several generations into people who are accustomed to instant gratification, irresponsibility, etc. How do you get parents to teach the kids, when the parents themselves were brought up the same way? One of my neighbors thinks it’s perfectly normal to go to school and hector them to give her kid an A when he did nothing to earn or deserve it, because otherwise he’ll feel bad about himself! Well, so he should, but when I told her that, she was outraged.
    Because she was raised the same way by her mother.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Thanks for clarifying your meaning, Darrin. It’s certainly true that our inner state of mind is always more open to choice than our external circumstances. And that the key to improving our condition in life more often lies in seeking out a more productive state of mind, not in searching for external culprits to blame for our woes.

    Stating this fact more clearly, so as to empower the powerless to take action on their own behalf, rather than berate them for their failings, is a praiseworthy goal.

  • Shark

    Mr. Coe, meet Mr. Bambineck

    Mr. Bambineck, meet Mr. Coe.

    You two should be very happy together in your rooms at the Wolfschanze.

  • Nancy

    Well, your additional comment certainly threw a different light on most of your original statements. For me, at least; and I cede the idea of refusing to be a victim mentally or emotionally, regardless of the actual, physical situation … even so, there’s an awful lot goes on that people have no control over, even with the best mental/ emotional will in the world, and they are indeed victims. Besides, by denying that anyone is a victim unless they want to be, aren’t you then excusing the victimizers? After all, they can’t be guilty of preying on others if those they prey on won’t/can’t accuse them. In essence, you’re then saying there is no crime, because the crime is only in the mind and perception of the victim? I don’t doubt this tack has been tried at least a few times in court by some pretty venal defendants, but I don’t think it ever got anywhere with a jury exercising basic common sense. I know it sure wouldn’t go over with the majority of the public that I’m part of.

  • Darrin Coe

    I’m enjoying the fact that this discussion continues. great points concerning the need for education; the need for parental interventions; the need for more community work to educate those who many need education.

    I want to address the most recent post made concerning the culpability of the offender or victimizer.

    On the contrary I believe that the victimizer must be held accountable and prosecuted. for while I encourage the empowerment of the victim through the choices they make then I also want to see them empowered by being able to see the offender receive consequences.

    We are so many times taught that we reap what we sow and there are consequences for our actions yet people who are victimized many times see their victimizers receive no consequences.

    I believe illegal and unethical behavior should be prosecuted. If it is legal yet unethical then it must taken to account.

    Just because I stated a number of states are a choice does not mean I believe they are easy choices. The choice to break out of poverty, the choice to not be a victim are two of the most difficult choices people can make because “circumstance” would appear to be working contrary to those choices.

    Stay Strong
    Darrin F. Coe, MA

  • Nancy

    This thread almost verges on the differences between predestination vs free will :o

  • Maurice

    Most of my family live in poverty. Some are on welfare and others are in jail or have been in jail. They all had the same opportunities I had growing up. My sister had the chance to get out of poverty. She was given $100k when her husband was killed on the job (truck driver). She received $1800 a month from SS for her 3 daughters. She could have done so much with this second chance in life but chose not to. She lives now as she did before the money arrived – her same dead end job and crummy house. She is happy. Her daughters are (grown up) healthy and happy and she wouldn’t change a thing.

    My sister could have easily viewed herself as a victim. She could have changed her victim status with the money she (squandered) received. In the end she chose poverty and happiness.

  • BillB

    Thanks for clarifying Darrin.

    At the risk of both painting with a broad brush and drawing an inference into your mindset (possibly a wrong one at that), I too believe much of what we bring into our lives is forged by our vision of ourselves and how we see ourselves interacting within the world.

    If I’m wrong in presuming you think similarly, oops!

    Bill