The past several years presented something of an upheaval for pretty much the whole world.  There was our financial crisis, the mortgage meltdown and high unemployment here.  Then came the extensions to countries like Greece, Ireland and Portugal where their economies went into a free fall.  It watching it all, talking in all the reactions, the sentiments being espoused by all affected.  In the U.S. we saw the catalyst for a major shift in political power under the promise of change.  In all this, in the great milieu of our society there was, and still is not, a shortage of voices claiming outrage at how they’ve been wronged.  Main Street blames the greedy elite of Wall Street, Wall street claims they are wrongly villanized for things like the mortgage crisis when wasn’t it Main Street who borrowed the money?  On and on it goes, with no apparent end in sight.  In looking at this I’ve been asking the question, where is the personal responsibility?

As one who spends a fair amount of time watching the financial markets and associated news shows, I constantly hear the market centric discussions of the need to cut the deficit, the need to reduce taxes on the rich and corporations as an incentive to invest, to expand production and to create jobs.  The simple question here is whether it’s rational for an investor or corporation to forgo profits and economic gain in the quest to avoid taxes?, To this add the question,when, in the history of the our republic, has any income tax reduction, for any group or class, produced a balanced budget? 

On the other side of the spectrum, I have a number of friends and colleagues who take the opposing position.  It is their sense, their belief the rich have gotten away with too much, that the policies of the past have effected a transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the wealthy.  Perhaps some credence here when you look at the shift in personal incomes and wealth.  So on that premise they call for tax breaks, they look to the liberals, who by the way now call themselves progressives in an effort to rebrand themselves, to legislate programs, paid for by the rich, which the believe will address their needs.

The interesting thing here is both have something in common, which, in my view, I doubt they recognize.  You see at the core of things they both claim victim status, the victim of corporate greed, the victim of over taxation and the victim of whatever else they can conjure up.  Each constituency will put forth their numbers, the data that demonstrates beyond a doubt how they’ve been wronged and how to make them whole.  The interesting thing here is that when either side realizes those remedies, when they get what they believe will make them whole, they’re not happy, they always seem to find some other way in which to claim victim status.

As those who follow my writings know, one could view my fortunes as less than favorable.  My son was born with a heart defect which required surgery at 2 years and 3 months.  He was also born with  Asperger’s syndrome, a disorder that falls on the Autism spectrum.  While I’ve not mentioned this, my mother is mentally ill, suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  In addition, my father was less than stellar when it came to monogamy, which, when combined with my mother’s attributes, made for an interesting environment in which to grow.  You will also know I divorced after 14 years of marriage in a rather acrimonious manner.  During and shortly thereafter followed my cancer diagnosis and loss of my job to the early stages of the banking crisis.  All substantive life events and I suppose each in itself, when looked at through the eyes of most, is a reason to claim victim status.  However, when I look through my lens, I do not see a victim, but a person presented with some challenges and who responds appropriately.  In short, I try to accept personal responsibility for my life and make the best of that presented me.  Admittedly, I do have my days, those days when I rhetorically ask, “why me”, but they are short-lived and generally fleeting.  However,  since that is not the core of who I am, nor to what I aspire, I refuse to assimilate the role of victim.

While following my many paths, particularly with my cancer, some often ask – “how are you doing”, not physically, but mentally.  When hearing about the latest news, particularly the less favorable news, they ask about the next steps, they wonder what I will do next, how I will deal, how I will cope.  The answer is typically the same, I will evaluate, confer, decide and then deal with the outcome.  Some also find discomfort in the ease, perhaps my ability, to discuss the end, the probability of my death in the relatively near future.  For me it is clear, it is about, as my whole life has been about, personal responsibility.  I refuse to accept the role of victim, rather I choose to embrace that dealt me and move forward.  While many see cancer as an epic fight, something to disdain, as I’ve written, I see it as a tool, as something enabling me to push the envelope of science, to offer myself as a tool of learning and to encourage that process.  I see each event in such a light, as something from which I can grow, or use to contribute to the world, however minute.

So what has all this have to do with the financial crisis and other worldly matters?  The answer is simple, perhaps we should all adopt a new paradigm, one of personal responsibility, one where we look to ourselves for solutions to personal challenges and to find way in which we can contribute to the betterment of the world.  Perhaps, just maybe, if we can all stop feeling sorry for ourselves and work toward solving our own problems, if we embrace a new paradigm, one of accepting personal responsibility, there will be fewer problems in the world and perhaps, just maybe, we may leave the world a better place.

Happy reading and happy trails.

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