Responsibility seems to be something with less and less impact nowadays. Reminiscent of an antiquated word that is diminishing from usage, or more accurately a word we prefer to shunt onto anyone but ourselves – the state, our colleagues, the media, the food industry – just not us.
In the current social and political paradigm it has reached the point of sacrilege to tell someone to take responsibility for their own actions, health and wellbeing, or even to provide physical and mental stimulation to their own offspring.
No one is advocating that the state returns to the cold, distant, ‘nightwatchman’ role it used to play until the implementation of the Beveridge Report in the late 1940s.
The five ‘Giants’– want, disease, idleness, squalor and ignorance – have been reduced to persistent dwarfs. Perhaps now that they have been diminished, we are suffering from ‘mission creep’ and getting increasingly diminishing returns.
It is a worrying state of affairs that people in Scotland have been subjected to numerous saturation marketing campaigns, encouraging them to ‘play, talk, read’ to their children or to ‘take life on, one step at a time’ – the gist of which appeared to be to take your child outside sometimes.
Isn’t parental affection and care something that shouldn’t require a prompt by the state? Has it got to the point where your fellow citizen contributes towards a shared tax system to produce an advert to remind some lax parent to read a book to their offspring at bedtime?
Anecdotally, evidence from those at the frontline of the education system seems to indicate that pupils who don’t study now blame teachers for their own failings. Parents complain when their child doesn’t get the grade that they ‘deserved’, rather than the one that their wilful lack of effort dictates what they actually achieved.
How many times has a civil servant or politician appeared on the news and outlined another government plan to tackle obesity, smoking, truancy, or your child accessing inappropriate material via the internet, without placing any responsibility on anyone?
It’s the government, it’s the schools, it’s the NHS; sometimes, though, it’s you. You’re responsible for your own actions and for any negative consequences.
It’s easy to mock the old infomercials along the lines of ‘coughs and sneezes spread diseases’, but they are from an era that didn’t have access to a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. Today, the same excuse can not be used.
I’m no policy expert, but here is a quick fix: stop smoking, eating and drinking so much.
Keep an eye on where your child goes, take them to the school.
Move the computer into the living room and put parental locks on mobile devices. Take some responsibility. You’re welcome.
David Bone is a third sector worker and blogger. He lives in Girvan, Ayrshire.