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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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Leave the guns at home during political rallies

Gun right supporters at Miller rally (1)
Leave the guns at home boys. We don’t need them at political rallies. Nobody is going to take away your right to own guns as long as there is the Second Amendment.

In a rally for Joe Miller, senate candidate in Alaska that has the support of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express, some of the marchers worn guns over their shoulder or strapped to their waist. This is allowed because the guns were not concealed and Alaska is a right to carry state. Miller, a gun rights supporter, said that he wasn’t bothered by the presences of guns at his rally.

The Second Amendment, supported by the Responsible Community, guarantees a person’s right to “bear arms” in the United States. There is disagreement to the full meaning of the amendment, but it does support gun ownership in some way. But no right is absolute. There can be reasonable restrictions placed on gun ownership.  As an example, those that have shown a lack of restraint in the past can have their second amendment rights taken away.

But there is also another restriction that should be honored at political and other social gatherings. That is the restriction of personal responsibility. Political rallies are, in the last couple of years, very heated. The political events that were part of the health care debate last year are just an example. People from all sides of the spectrum were their showing their passion – and sometimes nearly uncontrolled anger. If the heated political environment continues at the pace it is and there are guns at the rallies, trouble is going to follow. One side or the other is going to get out of hand.

Remember Kent State at the end of the turbulent ‘60’s. Those deaths happen when there was a command structure in place that was suppose to prevent such events. Yet, fear, anger and a lot of passion got the best of everyone. Even Vice President Spiro Agnew in a David Frost interview at the time said that the killings were an, “over-response in the heat of anger.” (2) That over-response killed four people.

Passion is a part of politics. That can’t be denied. As passion builds in the climate we have, fear and anger can overcome a rational person. If someone has a gun handy or if they are concerned about a weapon that someone else’s has, it is going to become too easy to take action.

Leave the guns at home. We don’t need them at political rallies.

(1) http://www.bradynetwork.org/images/content/pagebuilder/23320.jpg
(2) Stone, I.F. (1970-12-03). "Fabricated Evidence in the Kent State Killings". The New York Review of Books 15 (10). OCLC 1760105. ISSN 0028-7504. 
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