For nearly a century leftists have psychoanalyzed the bourgeoisie, capitalists and their values, yet rarely looked in the mirror. Dr. Breggin M.D. a psychiatrist provides an interesting take on the psychology behind progressives and statist values.
To listen to an audio presentation of this essay: http://breggin.com/090109.m3u
Responsibility: The Dagger in the Heart of Progressives
Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
September 1, 2009
Today I want to talk about the dread word “responsibility.” Children and progressives often hate the word responsibility. Adults who are failing in their lives often detest the word as well.
When we were children, taking responsibility may have sounded about as inviting as grabbing a porcupine by the tail or jumping up and down barefoot on a bed of tacks. Every time an adult was mad or disappointed, we heard, “Be responsible.” Or worse, “That’s irresponsible.” Some of us never get over it. I’ve seen forty-year-old men wince at the sound of the word—responsibility. Like a punch in the nose or a slap in the face: Be responsible! Smack!
It harms people psychologically to view responsibility as a punishment imposed on us from the outside. Responsibility becomes something someone else wants you to do against your will and probably against your best interests. Too many adults resent the idea of taking responsibility, and that resentment becomes ruinous to their lives.
Because the word is so emotionally charge, I’ve tried to find less painful synonyms. Maybe “autonomy”—but that’s a word for philosophers, not ordinary folks. Maybe “self-sufficiency”—but that’s something more specific about providing for your own needs. Maybe “independence”—but that’s more a result of taking responsibility. There really isn’t another word to substitute for the dread word responsibility.
Responsibility means that you own what you do and you do what you know is right. You never blame what you do on someone or something else, because you recognize that you’re the one who makes the choices about your own actions. It means that you and you alone make your decisions and take your own actions—and that you always do your best to do what you know is right.
Responsibility means feeling eager and glad to accept the consequences of your choices and actions. In fact, for a successful life, taking responsibility has to appeal to you. You have to want it and to seize it.
I believe that rationality and love are the twin guideless for responsible living. Responsibility means acting on the basis of rational ethics in everything you do, all the time, in every way. No exceptions, none at all.
And then there’s love. To me, the ultimate expression of the good life requires taking responsibility for becoming a source love—someone who takes joy in being aware of other people, creativity, nature, our national values, and God.
I began by saying that progressives and children often hate the word responsibility. Progressives, Statists and extreme left-wingers dislike the word because it suggests that people are not entitled to good lives—that instead they have to work for them. It puts the onus or the burden on the individual to build a life that is successful, and psychologically and spiritually satisfying.
Responsibility is the dagger in the heart of Progressives. That’s because Progressivism thrives on people feeling abused and victimized. Progressives and Statists promote the idea that individuals cannot and should not have to take care of themselves. Being Progressive too often means feeling sorry for and looking down on other people rather than empowering them by defending their freedom, enlarging their choices and opportunities, and encouraging their sense of responsibility. From bailing out giant corporations to enforcing government health care, Progressivism undermines responsibility.
Our Founders of our nation knew that freedom provided opportunity and after that it was up to individual Americans to make the most of it. The Founders continually emphasized the direct relationship between taking responsibility and enjoying happiness. In 1783, at the close of the War of Independence, George Washington made clear that from now on Americans would be responsible for their own happiness. He declared, “At this auspicious period, the United States came into existence as a nation, and if their citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own.”
Embrace responsibility because it is the only way to make a happy life. Embrace responsibility because it’s the only way to give to others and to the world as much as you can. Embrace responsibility because you will become more truly loving toward yourself, other people, nature, God and whatever or whomever else matters to you.
This brings me again to the refrain of my weekly report, The Primary Principles:
Take responsibility at all times
Express gratitude for all your gifts and opportunities
Become a source of love