It was a pleasantly shocking experience to hear the government official use those two words.
After all, so many government officials and politicians would like you to outsource your personal responsibility to the government. The more things that are the responsibility of government means the more you rely on government which means the more things people in power (or would like to be in power) can promise you in order to win your support.
So when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) official used the words, “personal responsibility” it was striking to me – and I could almost hear the sound of heads exploding across the country as this novel idea was being rejected by the mental programming of people who have come to rely on others to save them.
Here’s the deal: Nobody is coming to save you.
Before you get your undies in a bunch, thinking this is a partisan political post – think again. Regular readers will know that I am a “transpartisan” equal opportunity critic of both political parties and the tribalism that has come to dominate our society.
As Randy Gage and I discussed in our recent interview, people in power and people who want power continue to promise “free cheese” to the masses until the masses come to expect the “free cheese”.
And often that “free cheese” comes at the expense of relying on yourself, your critical thinking, and your common sense.
“The only free cheese is in the mousetrap,” said Randy.
One way to look at that mousetrap is our mental imprisonment of having to rely on every utterance of politicians, the media, teachers, preachers and other so-called “elites” to make us feel safe.
Look at the current situation with coronavirus/COVID-19.
As I write this, there have been around 200 total cases in the United States. Over the coming months, those numbers may skyrocket; they may not.
Government officials may limit travel; they may quarantine cruise ship passengers; they may pay for vaccines; or they may not.
Regardless of what they or anyone else does: We know there are simple steps you can take right now to remain healthy.
Wash your hands. Practice good hygiene. Stay hydrated. Don’t go out in public if you’re sick.
There are several other steps, but the key point here is that these are things we should be doing anyway, especially during flu season.
The CDC official I mention at the beginning of this post was discussing those very activities. He also mentioned the fact that we have a responsibility not to infect others. So, if you’re sick, he said, you have a responsibility not to visit your grandparents and infect them, because seniors are more susceptible to experience the full brunt of not just COVID-19, but other sicknesses, as well.
That takes personal responsibility.
It doesn’t take government intervention.
And, again, it’s something you should be doing anyway.
This situation goes well beyond coronavirus. It goes to the heart of societal programming that would have us believe that self-reliance is not only dead; it’s evil.
Over on Twitter, a bariatric surgeon (yes, someone who gets paid to do bariatric surgery) messaged me to tell me it’s “dangerous” to talk about personal responsibility and lifestyle choices when it comes to obesity. That same surgeon aggressively lobbies for government intervention and mandates to force insurance companies to pay for bariatric surgery.
Maybe insurance companies should pay for it; maybe not. But the fact that he considers talk of “lifestyle choices” to be dangerous is very telling.
We’re in the midst of an election year here in the United States, so it’s that time where people on one side of the aisle claim we can only be saved by re-electing the person in power; and people on the other side of the aisle claim we can only be saved by un-electing the person in power and putting their chosen one in place.
We need our mayors to protect us from super-sized fountain drinks, because it’s too hard to take responsibility to eat/drink healthy.
We need our churches to tell us how to vote, because we can’t think critically and make our own decisions.
We need local governments to forcibly protect us from the scourge of plastic straws, because we can’t make the choice ourselves not to litter.
We need a prescription drug for every single pain, sickness, and ailment, because making better lifestyle decisions is just too darn tough.
Then we need government to restrict how much drug companies can advertise (as one recent social media commenter asserted to me), because we simply can’t control ourselves to resist marketing and advertising campaigns.
In short, we need others to save us from ourselves. Or, so we think.
That’s not freedom. It’s servitude.
Yes, critical thinking is hard. It takes time. It requires us to put down our phones, meditate for a bit, and come to our own decisions.
The more you do it, the more it becomes a habit.
The more it becomes a habit, the more you become reprogrammed to welcome personal responsibility.
The more you welcome personal responsibility, the more you gain your freedom.