I’m beginning to wonder if we have become myopic to the extent to which personal responsibility needs to reach.
The other day I read a comment from someone on how our lawmakers are in the back pocket of lobbyists which serve big business. He raised a fist and shook it in the direction of the greed of Corporate America, how we are becoming powerless to the laws that are written and tailored to increase the gains of the shareholders of corporations.
This position bothered me. It bothers me any time I see someone take a position of blame, of attributing a personal condition to the decisions and actions of others. When I hear such talk I feel like I am standing in the town square surrounded by cries of “Hang ‘im!”. It’s the age-old position of victim mentality, with the mantra that states, my life is far from idyllic, and someone’s gonna pay.
It’s easy to blame the big guy. It’s easy to throw rocks no bigger than a plum at a skyscraper. They are not thrown with the intention of bringing it down; after all, we know that’s an exercise in futility. We are powerless against such a behemoth. But maybe we can break a window. And they will know our displeasure when they have to foot the expense of replacing the glass. Or if enough people agree to join in and chuck a rock, we can break enough windows and perhaps cause a nasty draft, forcing them to leave the building as opposed to taking on the cost of reparations.
I often follow the trail of this breadcrumb logic back as far as I can in my mind. One of the primary goals a corporation sets for itself is to make a profit. I believe only the most Marxist or patchouli scented individuals refute this idea as reasonable. I see no issue with profitability, and I believe most people find it acceptable as well. But the trail I’m following leads to the vitriol of the general population fueled the “too much” principle. Where the question is asked “how many more yachts do these executives need?”. The irony is hearing this question asked with fist raised, that fist containing the crumpled up lotto ticket with chosen numbers that missed their target. Perhaps we can hurl that spent ticket at the skyscraper.
Where personal responsibility comes in is looking at where we ourselves are responsible. Of course, we can take personal responsibility with our votes. We can choose representatives of our government that take actions that are not indicative of encouraging financial backing of their future campaigns by the leviathans of industry. We can make educated consumer choices that eschew padding the portfolios of board members that place their interests before our own. Meanwhile the crows of cynicism sweep down and scarf up the crumbs I’ve laid out to help me follow my logic back to the original point, and they caw their derision in my direction as I get lost in the notion that we have that kind of power to truly affect change against the industrial corporate complex.
But then I pull out my handy trump card, an index card I read from that expresses the idea that a society, our society, any society, is simply a reflective construct of the individual. Government and corporations serve as a societal Jungian archetype that indicates the state of the psyche of the people that comprise it. Everyone carries in their pockets a list of what they would do if they won the lottery, yet the list of what they would do to improve the living conditions of all concerned was written on a cocktail napkin during a compassion party that was thrown during the Christmas season five years ago. We frame the executives that give themselves inflated bonuses in contempt, yet we wish upon each numbered ball that flies up the air chute for enough money to pay our debts, meet all our expenses, with more than enough left over for whimsical indulgences to serve as snacks to feed our insatiable appetites for the illusions of creature comforts.
So if I am to take on this position with any credibility, I need to pay heed to my own minister whispering in my ear, everything that applies to everyone else applies to me. I carry no debt apart from my mortgage. I am able to meet all my daily expenses with enough left over for a few niceties. How indulgent would I become if I was granted a large sum of money? How much would be more than enough, vs. too much? What amount of money would I need to receive before I would say I can’t keep any more of it, that I must give the remainder to systems that support and help others?
We can create balance in our lives of recognizing our blessings, how much we truly have, how wealthy we truly are. The truest and best way to do this is to acknowledge our good fortunes, and share our blessings with others in whatever ways we see fit. When we can do this, we can move away from a perspective of lack, from the idea that our lives would be better off if those we say are in charge of governments and corporations put the people before themselves. That is the only way we can regain our power, and not give it away to another idea that creates separation, another Us vs. Them war cry to which we can rattle our sabers. At that point we will see that we are government, that we are the corporations, and that we will see the change in these institutions reflect our ideal of what we want to see them become when we become those very same ideals.