Sunday, August 20, 2017

Failed Responsibility


Having failed the most important test of political responsibility in our lives, we the citizens of the United States are now coping with the aftermath – both socially and environmentally. 

Those of us living with the mistaken belief that "personal responsibility" without societal correction is the key to a better future seem willing to tolerate the consequences of disabling the most powerful tools of that correction, governments, with the faith of a spoiled child that an omnipotent parent – either a deity or an economic force – will prevent the worst of those consequences.

Meanwhile, the rest of us must soon, if not already, deal with the reality we helped create, and continue fighting to slow the global trajectory of death and destruction that is by now inevitable. That fight requires enforcement of honest accountability for how people's actions impact others, and promotion of valuing life above everything – including pursuit of possessions and life-devaluing status – that are stealing or degrading the resources vital for its continuation.

A mix of two strategies for avoiding harm (confrontation and mitigation), this approach assumes that people are capable of changing their motivations sufficiently to cause an appreciable slowing in both consumption of critical resources and competition over what's left. To the extent that such a capability does not exist, for example due to innate biological or psychological limitations, then success will be limited. Current behavior as an adaptation to past pain may also be a limiting factor, though some change might be accomplished with a more measured, compassionate approach.

Other countries are trying their own strategies, in part by legacy (they're stuck with what they have) and in part by experimentation. Like a worldwide game of musical chairs, we're all doing what our experience and judgment guides us to do; and like that game, we'll have to live – or die – with responsibility for the result.