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Whatever Happened to Personal Responsibility?

All of the discussions about gun control in the wake of the Aurora shooting brought to mind one thing the media refuses to discuss: personal responsibility. The left is too busy blaming the right, the right blaming the left and ABC blaming the Tea Party. Here’s a novel idea: how about we blame the shooter? Why does anyone else have to be held responsible besides the murderer who decided to pick up a gun? This has been bothering me for some time, but I actually thought about in particular after I read an article on the MSNBC website about people who practice “distracted walking” and another later about Bloomberg’s hospital rule to force women to breastfeed.

No matter what the habit we have, some government nitwit seems to think that he or she should save us from ourselves. The distracted walking (walking while texting, listening to music, etc.) article has several of them calling for legislation.

There are constantly stories about local or state governments banning Tran’s fats, salt, sodas and so forth. Now New York’s Mayor Bloomberg is instituting a rule that hospitals have to lock up baby formula. Mothers can request it, but not without having the “boob police” lecture them about how they are shortchanging their infant.

Now I’m a mom who nursed both my children for just over a year each so I know the benefits of breast milk. However, it was my choice to decide how to best feed and care for my child. Not once did I think government should step in and make the decision for me. I believe that I am intelligent and responsible enough to decide how to care for myself and my family. According to Bloomberg, et al, my belief system is a bit off because apparently, we are too brainless to make good choices and need “saving.”

Now there are those who would (and have) called me callous, uncaring and lacking compassion because I would hold people to a higher level of personal responsibility than society does. I recently suffered from a barrage of tweets from a liberal “friend” on Twitter. She started with situations with the aim of cornering me into an answer that would prove I am a hardhearted conservative: “If a man is in critical condition in the hospital, do you measure his responsibility before or after he was shot? If I’m hit by a car while walking in my neighborhood, am I being irresponsible for going outside? If a fracking company pollutes the aquifer under my parents’ farm, are they irresponsible for having the farm? If my grandmother has a stroke and has to move to a home, was she irresponsible because she didn’t die from the stroke? If a woman is raped, was she being irresponsible because she choose to be born with lady parts? If a young boy is raped by an old assistant football coach, was it his responsibility to be more resistant?” But wait, it gets better…

“Speaking of responsibility: do you think bankers who wrecked the economy in 2008 should be held to account? Do you think people who murder abortion doctors should be held to account? Do you think the lawyers who condoned torture in the Bush years should be held to account? Do you think brokers who robosigned foreclosures on people’s homes should be held to account? Do you think politicians who use racially-tinged language should be challenged on it? Do you agree that, as Americans, you and I are charged to care for our fellow citizens?”

She then said: “If your answer to any of these is “no,” then you and I have very different definitions of “responsibility” and “compassion.”

Dear God, I hope so! Each question withholds just enough information, or presents just enough of liberal’s side to seem easily answered, but instead each one is an ambush. She then hid what I see to be her true plan in the following: “You may not believe me, but I really am trying to understand why our worldviews are different.” Honestly, there have been times when this is the case, but my experience is that, generally, she doesn’t want to understand. Instead I get condemned for holding my views.

She, as an example of a far left liberal, doesn’t want to be held to any standard that requires personal responsibility. She also refuses to admit that in all but one of those situations, there may just be responsibility on both sides.

Is compassion needed in each situation? Yes. So is admitting that each may have some responsibility for being in that situation (molested child excepted).

Just as an aside, one of my more liberal friends later chimed in that I am “1 of the most compassionate friends I’ve ever had. ANYONE who thinks 2 question that is crazy…literally…C-R-A-Z-Y!!” So, exceptions to the liberal rule are out there, please don’t think I paint everyone with the same brush!

Personal responsibility means that it is not the place of government to protect us from our own idiocy. Their role is to protect us from the actions/inactions of others that infringe on our rights to “life, liberty and property.” Beyond that, the Nanny State needs to butt out.

Suzanne Olden

Suzanne Reisig Olden is a Catholic Christian, Conservative, married mother of two, who loves God, family and country in that order. She lives northwest of Baltimore, in Carroll County, Maryland. She graduated from Villa Julie College/Stevenson University with a BS in Paralegal Studies and works as a paralegal for a franchise company, specializing in franchise law and intellectual property. Originally from Baltimore, and after many moves, she came home to raise her son and daughter, now high school and college aged, in her home state. Suzanne also writes for The Firebreathing Conservative website ( and hopes you'll come visit there as well for even more discussion of conservative issues.