Personal responsibility is making head line news this week. Two of the best examples – or worse, depending on your point of view – are Bernie Madoff and Charlie Sheen.
Let’s start with Madoff. Most of us know that he took billions of dollars from the rich and poor to run his own ponzi scheme. Banks, the government, security firms and other organizations that were suppose to catch this type of criminal activity missed it for many years. The organizations missed it because Madoff was making money for everyone and nobody wanted to risk that changing.
In an interview with Madoff that has received a lot of air play recently, we never hear him say he accepts full responsibility for his actions without conditions. He may say he did the things he is accused of, but says he is a good man. Madoff says that the many people that gave him money enabled made him. Or, that it was just a mistake that he could not get out of. The bottom line is, he is a crook and is right where he belongs, in prison. Those that looked the other way all this time should be there with him.
In another high profile interview, Charlie Sheen never takes full responsibility for any of his actions. He is in his mid forties and has the behavior of an unrestraint teen. Beside his abuse of alcohol and drugs, he has abused his wives, children and friends. (I am using a loose definition for abuse that includes mistreatment and not just physical abuse.) If it wasn’t for his money that enables him to continue his lifestyle, he would be a bum on the street if not in jail. Right now, CBS has cancelled the rest of the season of the show he headlined in, “Two and a Half Men.” The other stars in the show most likely are financially okay. But consider the others that work for the show that are just regular people. They are now out of a job because Charlie is a drunk.
Charlie has a high profile interview being shown on many media outlets. Again, like Madoff and many other people like the two of them, Charlie never takes full responsibility without any conditions. He says that he is a misunderstood person. That people need to see things from his point of view to understand his behavior. But the irony is that his self centered ego doesn’t allow him to see things the responsible way, that he is hurting other people.
In a community, let’s set about being responsible. The two of them certainly are wrong, we can all agree to that. But the reason Madoff did so well is because everyone around him didn’t do the responsible thing of asking questions. The most basic being, how is it you are doing so well when everyone else is not? As for Charlie, the show, “Two and a Half Men” is one of the most watched shows on television. With so many people tuning in each week to see Charlie act out his real life, all of us have enabled him to continue abusing the people around him. Stop watching the show and CBS will replace it with something else.
A responsible community can set a goal of a safe environment. But, unless people accept responsibility for their actions; not only after, but before; the community will never be able to fully achieve that goal.