Friday, August 6, 2010

Where personal responsiblity begins

Flowers in the alley
Do you wonder where personal responsibility begins?

It starts with flowers along an alley in Pontiac, Michigan. The alley runs south off of Huron Street for two blocks. It is clear the alley has been around for a long time. The base pavement are bricks from at least a hundred years ago. Many other coatings have been added, most of which is breaking up. The back of the buildings that face the alley are in even worse shape. They need repairs, paint, windows and brick work. Weeds and trash are all around.

But, on an entrance to what appears to be a flat are flowers. They are multi colored pansies that were planted in the Spring. They are well watered, healthy and there are no weeds. Someone has taken the time to make this dull, broken alley a little better. Perhaps at their own expense.

Bricks falling form a building
Just around the corner there is a building for sale. Broken pieces of brick are falling from the second story on to the sidewalk. Someone placed a yellow tape around the area to keep people from getting hurt. The broken bricks have been laying on the sidewalk for as long as the flowers have been planted in the alley.

The difference between the two is personal responsibility. Someone that occupies the flat in the alley took personal responsibility to make the community environment just a little better. The person who planted the flowers could have spent money just on themselves, but instead invested in the community. While they may have little or no control over the repairs that are needed on the buildings or the alley, they have made a personal investment.

As for the broken pieces of brick that are falling off the building around the corner, the owner is not doing what he or she can. Since the building repairs have not been made, a hazard has been created. Perhaps the owner is having a difficult time financially, or the bank owns the building, but none of that matters. Someone’s lack of personal responsibility over the things that can be controlled is, well, for lack of a better word, irresponsible.

Personal responsibility is anchored in what you can control and do something about. It is balanced with what is good for the individual, the family and the community. Like the example in the Bible of the poor woman who gave all she could even though she had children to feed, the person that planted the flowers is to be rewarded. The owner of the building who has done nothing with the hazard that is created by the broken pieces of brick falling on the sidewalk needs to answer to the community as to why the repairs have not been made.

The community’s right to know why the repairs have not been made is the beginning of the shared responsibility between the individual and the community.

On a personal note: To the owner of the building, fix it before someone gets hurt. To the City of Pontiac, clear the walk of the bricks and issue a summons to the building owner to answer for the lack of responsibility.

To the person that planted the flowers, you have my respect. It was you that sparked my imagination to write this blog post.


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