This I Believe

Lindy - Dunwoody, Georgia
Entered on September 12, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

Personal Accountability

I believe in personal accountability. Throughout history, people have been expected to provide for and take care of themselves. It is such an expectation that has led to the individual sufficiency and productivity that makes society great. However, in recent days, personal responsibility and accountability has been relegated to little more than an archaic way of thinking, and it this “great society” is baring the brunt as a result.

Recently, people seek a benevolent master, an all-powerful entity to take care of them. For example, if someone decides they don’t want to work for a living, they expect the government to step in and provide them with food and medical care. The welfare system in The United States has destroyed the idea of personal accountability. Why should someone provide for themselves and their families when they know they can just get someone else to do it? Why should someone plan ahead and save their own retirement, when they know that the federal government will provide them with a lucrative retirement plan, in the form of Social Security? Why should someone be expected to pay for their own medical care when the government will do it for them?

As a country, we no longer expect any sort of responsibility from the individual. Andrea Yates, the woman who drowned her five children in a bathtub, recently had her original sentence overturned. She avoided the death penalty and serious jail time because she was declared “temporarily insane.” No one is expected to take responsibility for his or her own actions. Why should they when there seems to be this mitigating circumstance, intervening at precisely the right time, that can take the blame for people’s outrageous behavior? Why is it that a man can’t help being belligerently drunk because he has a “disease?” Of course he can’t be expected to exert any level of self-control, because he is “sick.” Therefore, we cannot punish him harshly for his abuses, he “can’t help them.”

Sexual predators are just another example in a long list of the lack of self-control, responsibility and accountability that plagues our society. They also take the disease claim. Therefore, instead of punishing them, we should “rehabilitate” them. A recent case comes to mind: Vermont trial court judge, Edward Cashman sentenced admitted rapist Mark Hulett to 60 days of jail time for the repeated rapes of a 7 year old girl, stating he “no longer believes in punishment.”

Refusing to punish people for shirking their fundamental personal responsibilities does little more than relay the message that anything and everything is acceptable. The deterioration of our expectations, with regard to personal accountability, has irreversibly damaged our country’s productivity. It has allowed evil to flourish and has made not only America, but the world, a much more dangerous place. That’s why I believe, the key to a successful society, is personal accountability.