Friday, November 18, 2005

Libertarianism = Personal Responsibility

Whilst doing my preparation and reading of Carnival XXI submissions, the recurring theme of libertarianism has bonked me on the noggin several times. Yes, I consider myself a libertarian - that's why I joined this community - so this shouldn't come as a surprise; and it doesn't. But what I have found through my reading the past couple days is that in all the discussions of getting rid of the nanny state and working toward a free society is that while I'm all for it and gung-ho, ready to go - I'm afraid I'm not optimistic that we'll ever be able to recapture what our forefathers tried to set up for us.

Why the pessimism? Well, because what has really hit me most is that in order to be a libertarian, you have to also be firmly invested in the idea of personal responsibility. This should be a no-brainer, right? Should be, but is it? We talk much of individual rights, states rights, freedom of speech, second amendment rights, etc. but in all this talk of rights, we also must begin to stress that along with rights comes a great commission - and that is that of personal responsibility.

Personal responsibility means that sometimes we must make decisions - and be willing to accept the consequences of our decisions. We must stop the blame game - no matter what. We must take actions - and then be willing to accept the consequences of our actions.

There are court cases out the wazoo in this country that should never have made it on the docket - if people would accept responsibility for their actions.

One locally that has disturbed me for the last couple years involved a young mother who, crossing a very busy intersection with a 5 year old (walking) and a 2 year old (in a stroller), watched in horror as a driver (reportedly on a cell phone) ran through a red light and ran over them, killing both children. Now, I'm extremely sorry for the mother who lost these children. I'm also very, very, sorry for the young woman who ran over them. The family is suing the young woman who ran over their children, and she is also facing criminal charges. Her attorney says that her cell phone records confirm she was not on the phone at the time of the accident.

There has been much hue and cry against cell phone usage while driving. While I will agree that using a cell phone can be distracting (whether hands free or not) and that common sense should be used, my biggest problem with this particular situation is this . . . and I haven't heard or read one article that questions the personal responsibility of the mother. I am a mother of two daughters who were at one time of corresponding ages to these young girls. I feel that I am qualified to question and ask "what was she thinking?" According to the reports, her five year old had stepped off the curb and was walking a few steps ahead of the stroller - on one of the busiest intersections in central Florida. What a tragedy. Could this have been prevented by the simplest of steps? By a mother having a firm grip on her 5 year old's hand, and watching the traffic? As I've said, I'm ever so sorry for all parties involved, but to my way of thinking, this is a situation where the mother was more at fault than the driver of the vehicle. In a situation where your children could possibly come in contact with 2000+ lb. objects, common sense dictates that you protect them from such contact at all costs - and relying on the judgement of a 5 year old is simply not acceptable in my book.

Earlier this week, I found an interesting little tidbit about a mother who found a unique way to discipline her 14 year old daughter - and is taking a lot of heat for it.

Sometimes mothers just reach a point of total exasperation. That's what happened to Tasha Henderson, 34, whose 14-year-old daughter, Coretha, earned C's and D's, was chronically late to her high school classes and talked back to her teachers. So this mother of three came up with the ultimate punishment for a teen girl: embarrass her in public.

The Associated Press reports that Coretha was forced to stand at a busy Oklahoma City intersection on a Friday afternoon holding a large cardboard sign with this message: "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food." Tasha stood next to her daughter the entire time.

The good news: Coretha's behavior has changed in the past week and a half. She attends Edmond Memorial High in Edmond, Okla., a school that is one of the top in the state in academics. Since the punishment, she has had perfect attendance and isn't talking back to the teachers. Only time will tell about the grades.

Now, all would have probably been fine had not a passing motorist decided to report Mrs. Henderson for psychological child abuse. Since then, "experts" and folks from all over are decrying Mrs. Henderson's methods as "destroying" her daughter psychologically.

Mrs. Henderson, I congratulate you. While you obviously had some issues that you didn't work out with your daughter while she was still young, you determined a way to get the desired response (good behavior) and despite some discomfort to yourself, you enforced it. Does anyone with real common sense believe that this child's self-esteem has been destroyed from this one incident? How about the monstrosity of government schools that has stroked the egos of children like this for years, telling them that anything they want to say or do is "okay"?

Seems to me that mom taught her daughter a great lesson in personal responsibility - if you aren't willing to put in the effort, this is what you can expect out of life. Bravo.

Daily, there are situations like these that I hear about and read - my family alone usually get the benefit of my musings on these things, but thanks to the LLP Community, today I was inspired - I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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