Personal responsibility seems to be lost on many

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2005

Most of us learn at a young age that life is about choices - and we all make some good and some bad ones.

But each choice we make is ultimately our own and it is our responsibility to face the consequences of our actions.

Our culture has increasingly become drawn into a pointless practice I like to call the blame game.

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Often times when something bad happens, we look for outside sources that can be blamed for an individual's actions. Maybe it is the media's fault for "glamorizing" sex or violence. Or maybe someone's actions can be blamed on poor parenting. Or how about blaming violent actions on video games or television that youth enjoy.

All of these are simply excuses, not reasons. None of these outside influences can force anyone to act in a way that is harmful to society.

This blame game practice erodes the personal responsibility that each and every God-fearing, law-abiding citizen should have instilled in them.

By allowing people to make excuses for their actions, our society only perpetuates the problem.

Are there some cases in which some outside factors may have influenced a decision? Certainly. Is it as common as some people would believe? Not even close.

Earlier this week, 16-year-old Jeff Weise allegedly killed his grandparents before going on a rampage at Red Lake High School in Minnesota that left nine dead and more wounded.

This heart-wrenching tragedy is the worst school shooting since the Columbine attacks in 1999. Many people are trying to make sense of this senseless attack.

It has been reported that Weise came from a broken home, in which his mother drank too much and his father committed suicide. Reportedly, the young man idolized Adolph Hitler.

These may be symptoms but do not address the true disease. Weise was a troubled young man that may have been missing much in his life and needed help.

But no one made him pick up that gun. No one made him drive to school. No one made him open fire on his classmates.

Each of these was choices that Weise had to make. He made horrible decisions that will affect the lives of this small community for years to come.

The young man turned the gun on himself so it is impossible to know if he knew where the responsibility for his actions fell.

As painful as a lesson as it may be, we can learn from situations like this. Each of us is responsible for our own actions. No one else deserves blame for our faults.

Jeffrey Weise will have to take responsibility for his actions when he stands before God. The rest of us have the chance to stand up now.

Michael Caldwell is the managing editor at The Ironton Tribune. To contact him by phone call, (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at