A while back, Brandon Aal commented on my commentary about teaching children about knives with an important idea.
If we don’t raise out children to bear self-responsibility and ownership, the West is lost.
The daily headlines bear out the truth of his observation.
The West is spiraling downward into a morass, and perhaps even oblivion. Each generation seems to go a step further down that path (or two or three). It is not just the recent generations, but we can see it all the way back to the war baby generation of the early 1940s and the baby boomers of the 1940s and 1950s (My own generation).
I do not mean everyone in those cohorts, but perhaps a majority.
It was their failure to accept personal responsibility and ownership of their own lives and actions that started this process. They took much less responsibility for raising and teaching their own children than had previous generations. It was not just “let the government schools do it,” either. They surrendered much to their churches and to the peers of their children. And increasingly to child care centers and babysitters. Babysitters and centers that often were very different in their beliefs and view of life than the parents.
That included people who were the products of generations of unfree lives, in which government was worshiped and society was stratified into rigid classes. Whether it was Mexico or Central America, the Mediterranean region, or elsewhere, these attitudes and views (taught by example and unconsciously, I believe) impressed themselves into the minds of young children.
We see it right here in the Fifty States in both the urban ghettos and barrios, and on reservations. Life is miserable for many reasons in those sorts of places. (I know I am at risk of being attacked as bigoted.) But a critical part of this miserable life is courtesy of not having personal responsibility, and expecting government to be a replacement.
A perfect example is too many who were raised in the Deep South. Whether the babysitters and others were the third- or fourth-generation of slaves, or of slaveowners and “poor white trash,” they for the most part accepted their place in society and were subservient to government and their betters. (Sadly, most blacks were at least not uncomfortable enough with the Jim Crow South (and Jim Crow Northern cities) to rebel against it. It took a very small number of people unwilling to accept their lack of freedom that won the day for all their people. That, and the willingness of millions of people not of their race who were willing to kill and be killed for their freedom.)
On the reservations, at least, people rebelled against this year after year, though that has not happened now for about a century. And since then, their descendants have fallen into the same trap. The majority are not being raised and taught to accept (much less seek) personal responsibility. So that seven generations later, few people can even recognize what is missing.
As the Fifty States urbanized, that attitude was found in more and more inner-city areas (and NOT just ghettos and barrios). As we became more a suburban society, the attitude spread even more. As government schools took on more and more functions that were once the responsibility of parents, the teaching of children (especially by example) included personal responsibility less and less.
Is it possible that such an attitude, that such a failure to teach what is essential for civilization and a civilized society, can be reversed?
Yes, as it has happened time after time through history. But it won’t be easy, and the longer it takes, the harder and more painful it will be.
But even if you or I were not taught as well as we should have been about our responsibilities. That doesn’t mean that we can’t teach our children and grandchildren, and even ourselves, to be responsible: to be adults.
Government seems to constantly try to do things like teach and demand responsibility, but it has really never succeeded in doing so. In large part because even the highest offices and the most powerful bureaucratic positions themselves do not apply and understand the concept. They always pass the buck (yes, even the POTUS).
But if we want progress, peace, and prosperity, we MUST teach (and learn) how to be personally responsible for our actions. As individuals, not as part of a group or a company or a government.