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Linn-Mar Life

We Must Accept Our Responsibilities

Alec Lechner, Contributing Reporter

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Year after year, new people are born into the world. And year after year we, as a society, change and the other generations before us can tell us that we are different than they were. Previous generations also stereotypically judge the new generation. We often blow off these criticisms and say that the old generation is out of date. After all, we maintain, they came from a time of oppression, Jim Crow and lots of racism and sexism. We all agree that the past had its set of appalling atrocities. However, it is naive to assert that our present day is without its own problems. One of these problems is the lack of responsibilities.

In our postmodern society, we value rights over our responsibilities. We have the right to do whatever we want with our life. We have the right to make ourselves happy. We have the right to universal healthcare. We have the right to universal income. Yet, we do not accept the responsibilities that we have. We have the right to become morbidly obese, but we have a responsibility to ourselves and to the people around us to keep ourselves healthy and self-sufficient. We have the right to do what makes us happy, but we also have the responsibility to contribute to our community and families instead of playing video games non-stop. We have the right to a universal income, yet we currently do not have the responsibility to provide a service or produce anything for our community.

This new mentality of rights over responsibilities could be part of the larger problems facing our country, problems such as obesity, divorce, and adult children living with their parents. Currently, 5.7 percent of men 25-34 years of age are unemployed, compared to 3.8 percent of women. Young people are the backbone of the economy. Their taxes pay for the welfare and Medicaid of the older generation. If young people have the right to not have a job and live at home, they are not fulfilling their responsibilities.

Today’s men are suffering from a Peter Pan syndrome, not wanting to grow up, not accepting their responsibilities. Naturally every generation has had this population, but today, we accept these people. Men are getting married later, the divorce rate is higher, and single motherhood has increased to 24 percent according to the Washington Post. Unmarried births have increased from around 5 percent in 1950 to 40.8 percent today.

This is not a debate about if single motherhood is worse for a child, or the ill effects a broken home can have on children. What is apparent is that more people are ditching their responsibilities in relationships for freedom in the world, and not “growing up.” The consensus, however, is that taking on responsibility is the key to a meaningful life. Even in our oldest stories we are taught that commitment is the most valuable thing. In the Odyssey, Odysseus struggles to get to his home, his son, and his wife. Along the way he is tempted by riches, eternal life, and beautiful women. But he pushes past these temptations to keep his commitment. He accepts his responsibility.

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