“Is This the Age of Irresponsibility?” Comments, Page 1

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24 Comments (10 Discussion Threads) on “Is This the Age of Irresponsibility?”

  1. Dr. Simon, can you be more specific about which social trends you are referring to? Specifically, are you referring to the trends of the 1960’s and 1970’s, which I like to think of as “peace, love, social harmony, challenge authority”. Or, are you referring to the 1980’s, 1990’s, 2000’s, which I like to think of as “religious fundamentalism, greed is good Wall Street, lying politicians, and who cares about global climate change”?

    1. Great question, Jeff! Of course, the answer is “yes.” The rebellion of the 60’s and 70’s actually has much in common with the avarice and entitlement of the 80’s and 90’s. The common denominator is the abuse of liberty because of the pervasiveness of permissiveness and moral relativism. And fundamentalism is but a cloak for power and dominance.

      Research suggests that all primates and even some other mammals are hard-wired to observe certain, fundamental “morals” that promote social order well-being. It takes a lot of rationalization, twisting of the truth, and abuse of freedom to lose our internal moral compass. Yet, that’s exactly what’s happened.

      There’s so much more to be said here. I’m hoping the article and comments will spur some good discussion.

      Thanks so much for your comments.

  2. I definitely ‘feel’ what you’re talking about. In my relationships, at work, in school, etc, I’ve always felt like I was taking on the majority of work, partially to compensate for the fact that those around me were doing so little. I never understood how they could just sit back and let someone else do it all. I’ve only recently discovered that taking on the extra burden was actually enabling them. I always thought my responsibility would rub off on them or inspire them to do their share of the work.

    Anyway, after being constantly drained of energy and feeling taken advantage of, I’m ready for some ‘course-correction.’ I can’t wait to read your new book and get more of your insight on this. “In Sheep’s Clothing” was great.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Carolyn and for your endorsement of my writings. I’m feverishly trying to get “Disturbances of Character” ready for publishing in Sept.

      What I have not understood fully, despite much research into the topic, is why a lot more folks didn’t become a lot more angry a lot sooner about the trend we’ve witnessed. It seems like the camel will not howl until the last straw finally breaks its back. I’m still trying to gather reliable data on this.

  3. Hi Dr. Simon,

    I’m not exactly sure if right now we have “more” irresponsible people or moral corruption than in ancient Rome, for instance. Perhaps, in the times of the Roman Empire, there weren’t as many “documented cases,” (so to speak.) I’m just taking ancient Rome as an example, but I believe that all through mankind’s history there might have been as many irresponsible people as now, perhaps…, only that now we are a larger number of human beings living on earth, so the problem looks worse. Can’t tell for sure.

    To me, it’s like cultures and societies follow a cycle, once they reach the peak of corruption, they start falling into pieces and they start from scratch again, as an unconscious but wanted “purge”… Perhaps, many years ago (proportionally) mankind had the same issues we have today, at a different level since life was not so “modern”, but still, we find people consuming drugs in the past as well (opium, etc.) – Please, don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying doing drugs is okay at all. I’m just saying we may be reaching one of those peaks of moral issues where everything starts collapsing and we may need to let time “weed out” the people with irresponsible behaviors to give way to a more morally decent society, something like the natural selection… (It does sound really crazy, I know, but it’s just a thought.) Not sure it would work, though.

    1. Some great points, Mariana! There does appear to be a “cycle” to these trends throughout history. Although I think we’re seeing “more” widespread irresponsibility that we had in the immediate post WWII era, we could make many comparisons between our present situation and that of ancient Rome as it entered its decline. Doesn’t sound too good, huh? Necessity seems to drive the pendulum once it’s swung too far.

  4. I read this morning of a mother who confronted the bullies of her daughter by asking them politely to desist. They falsely accused her of assaulting them (and quickly admitted they lied) Regardless of this 3 police cars and 8 police men arrested the mother in handcuffs in full view of her neighbours and carted her off to the cells. As far as I can tell the children have not been disciplined and were supported by their parents. Guilt and shame have been treated as if they were entirely bad things instead of potentially useful psychological mechanisms and checks on behaviour.

    Okay the question is whether this kind of thing is symptomatic of the diminishment of character over personality, rights over responsibility, backbone over wishbone. I suspect it is. Societal trends seem to polarise first swinging to the extreme one way then the other. I think the move into the age of “not my fault!” has been pernicious-but we have just as much “thought crime” as in the age of neurosis it’s just a different type of “crime”. We are not allowed to think ill of those who do bad things. The 20th century was indeed the “century of the self”

    I think there will be a backlash hopefully to a more balanced zeitgeist of rights AND responsibilities and I’d predict there would be subsequent rise in mental health and qaulity of life once we all stop being afraid to exercise our “right” to be judgemental.

    A much needed and useful article-thanks

    1. Thanks so much for the comments, Mark. I ranted a bit in some prior posts about the maligning of guilt and especially shame that well-intentioned but misguided researchers and mental health experts have engaged in over the years.

      The example you provide illustrates the point I was trying to make about the folly of trying to legislate and regulate our way out of the character crisis. I’ve read hundreds of articles where officials had to follow strict “no-tolerance” guidelines and committed the most horrendous acts of misjudgment in so doing. Yet these policies were developed in the first place because a few authorities with very questionable judgment and character couldn’t be trusted to make a just call. Our solution: make another rule as opposed to citing the character of the irresponsible authority and removing them from power. CRAZY! There was a time when you could trust those in authority to make a reasoned, judicious call. And when kids used to act up, any adult (with a commonly shared sense of basic values) would chide them without worry that their parents wouldn’t endorse them. In fact, misbehaving rascals were likely to get disciplined twice, once by the adult catching them and then again by their parents. Research clearly tells us that punishment CAN indeed be effective, but those receiving it have to feel that there’s no escape route (i.e. that responsible adults share common values and a likely response to injustice and will endorse and impose the same rules and consequences).

  5. I’ve been thinking about why a lot more folks didn’t become a lot more angry a lot sooner about the trend we’ve witnessed. And I believe that maybe it’s because things have escalated “smoothly” rather than “abruptly.” I think that when there’s a major change (for the worse) people tend to react more and in more intense way than when such change occurs gradually. It’s like people “get used to it” and keep tolerating more and more. Just a thought.

    1. Mariana, you couldn’t be more correct about the insidiousness of incrementalism and how people have habituated and become desensitized. We didn’t realize how deep the hole we were digging micron by micron until we found ourselves deep in the abyss. But I wonder if that’s the major reason people haven’t rallied. Sometimes I think the biggest reason is because of the level of burden responsible people are already carrying to ensure the quality of life they always dreamed of for their families is incredibly high. So, they’re angry, but they’re also tired. Responsible folks are also outnumbered and face a culture and “system” that is a formidable obstacle. I think people are “resigned” to their plight because they know intuitively that the way out would take an unbelievable effort and most of us neurotics are way too pooped for a revolution.

    2. I have to plead guilty here. I’m one of the tired folks. I raised my children to become responsible adults and I’d be totally unfair if I ever complained about them. They are wonderful young adults, and very responsible young man and young woman.

      Now, when it comes to other members in my family, I must admit I am beyond anger already, and have reached that “OK, I’m tired about this” point. I’m speaking of some “silly” irresponsibility, though, compared to the level of crime we live in our world, today. But it does have to do with self-indulgence attitude that leads to different kinds of irresponsibilities. People spending all the money they have in an utmost irresponsible way, hoping that other family members will eventually help them out, for instance. Or not taking good care about their health, and expecting their relatives to become their permanent 24/7 nurse. Things like that are a burden to those who avoid acting in an irresponsible way.

      First, we do our best to help, then it becomes like a vicious cycle, so we get angry, and finally, we “throw the towel.”

      Personally, I believe that some people don’t value what they have (be it wealth or health, etc.) and they just don’t treasure that. Sometimes, when people have too much and are irresponsible beings at the same time, it seems nothing satisfies them, nothing is good enough to make them happy.

      On top of it, many people seek happiness outside themselves, in the material plane. And when they can’t get what they crave, they channel their frustrations affecting others. It’s not fair, but it’s pretty much what is going on around the globe. We are constantly bombed by the TV or other media ads delivering a message that implies something like we are not “wow” enough if we don’t have this or that. And teens, for instance, will want “that” at whatever price they can get it, no matter who gets hurt in the way.

      When I was a child, other things were more important than the latest electronic devices. Knowledge, for instance, was something we used to admire in our grandparents, and there was more respect too. People, today, act as if they had just been released from some tortuous jail in times of the inquisition (exaggerating here, of course.) Some people think they can do just anything they feel like doing, withoiut even considering the impact this may have on other people’s lives.

    3. Very well said, Mariana. And, unfortunately, far too true and familiar to a lot of folks.

  6. I would have to say I’m one of those self-indulgent bums- I spent my teens extremely rebellious and was only effectively controlled once when I was put in “reform” school in another state! It was not exactly jail, but the doors were locked.
    Later, in my twenties, I became a party girl and a early stage alcoholic. I was in treatment twice. I eventually married a drunk and we have a child who is now twelve.
    During these times of crisis who was there for me? My family. I got bailed out again and again. Financially, physically, emotionally.
    Until now, at 39 years old I am unable to lean on my family anymore and because I leaned on them I have cultivated few good friendships which I believe has socially handicapped me in ways I never knew possible! With three children and one income we have to rely on Food Stamps and any kind of extra income I can get. We are in financial crisis much of the time and it takes a lot out of you to be like that!
    What I have discovered about failing to be responsible? That is MEANS everything – that your very life should you want to live a good one – depends on your ability to accept responsibility for your choices!

    1. Emily,

      I want to congratulate you for your strides in self-differentiation on toward that of increased personal growth. I encourage you to consider yourself as becoming increasingly successful in negotiating the challenges you have been journeying through, rather than holding yourself as a “self-indulgent bum”. People make unhealthy choices. People always have…always will. And, it is not so simple as defining societal ills as a lack of “character” or “character disorder”.
      There are many biophyschosocial factors that must be objectively considered and thoroughly studied if the motive is to advance our learning about the truths pertaining to negative behavior and “bad” judgment. I think you would appreciate some of the literature based in Neuroscience regarding the subject of behavior and decision making. The field of neuroscience is making huge advances that add clarity to the subjects of behavioral and social sciences. Read everything you can get your hands on, Emily. It’s important to diversify your reading so that you are taking in a spectrum of opinions, views, and studies in order to have the best shot at understanding the realities on the subject of “character”. I wish you continued progress in your journey!

  7. What a fantastic thread. I am one of those all too tired folks that has been fed up for a long time now and has wanted to do something but found that everyone around becomes totally silent when I speak out about what is wrong in our society. They are all afraid or self absorbed.
    I am the eldest child of four. My parents were a mere 20 years old when I was born. They NEVER grew up. They have scapegoated their entire life. They left me to raise the other kids while they played and fought, like little children. I am angry at 52 b/c I have had absolutely NO support my entire life. I was the most successful in the family b/c I worked for it.
    I married a self indulgent narcissist and he climbed his way to the top in a government job on my shoulders, you know the ones that hold the world’s weight? I was beat down emotionally by them all in order to continue to use me. After 23 years I divorced and my family picked up using me where he left off. Long story short, when I finally opened my eyes I saw evil all around me. My own son who I thought I had inoculated from this has gone over to their side. I hope everyone responsible pulls it together enough to send a very strong message that we are awake and we are not going to take on their load anymore.
    I have been eliminating these energy vampires out of my life one by one. I am thankful that my daughter is waking up and listening to me and learning that her choices have created a heavier burden that is not mine but hers to carry. I think that we have just had our hands full trying to balance things and keep this world together and we *thought* mistakenly that if we stopped the world might end. Well, the world as we have known it NEEDS to end. We need a break and those lazy self indulgent takers need to come on board and become responsible or they need to be taken out and shot. Sorry but I’m so done with this nonsense. Thanks for standing up and saying something that needed said. I’m sick of politically correct, what a bunch of BS. Judgment is a term that got hijacked. There is nothing wrong with judging in the arena of discernment and fairness. What people do that they call judgment is correctly termed projection, is that not so? I say that those who think the Bible is a good place to learn wisdom need understand that we are living in the Judgment period and if you aren’t judging yourself and your life then it will be judged for you!
    Lots of well wishes to you sweet folks out there that are tired and angry!
    Thanks for sharing the burden, now lets kick some you know what!

    1. Hi Diana,

      I so much understand what you are saying. Similar story here. Problem is when we had to be our parents’ parent all our life, and they never grew up, it’s hard to accept it and let go of the idea they will ever change or realize what they’ve done; let alone apologize or say something about it.

      So, they sort of get away with it. What I did about was to place them on the list of the things I cannot control and limit the assistance I give them. I care about them, but I don’t let their issues become the focus of my whole attention. It’s about setting limits and making each person responsible for what they choose to do.

  8. One more thing, my DEAR family are all fundamentalist Christians. Mom and Dad are preacher’s kids and dad is a minister of God. You want to talk about irresponsible people? You cannot even imagine the finger pointing and blaming I was around growing up. I remember from the time I was around 9 just wanting to run away. I used to pray for another family, etc. Sheer insanity. Two totally big babies who did not want to earn the toys they bought and played with. They thought that somehow everyone else owed it to them to give them money b/c they were doing God’s work. More preacher’s children should wake up and talk about this, its something that few people ever hear about. Want to know why preacher’s kids are so rotten? Well, its pretty easy to figure out. They have rotten parents.

    1. Okay, I’ll take a big risk here and probably offend every “religious” subscriber to the blog. The only “fundamental” command of Christ himself was that we all “love one another” as he loved and to DEMONSTRATE with our behavior a level of righteousness in our conduct that goes far beyond what we “preach” or the various religious “rituals” we practice. It was precisely his open rebuke of those who peached one thing and did another and placed their religious practices above common compassion that led some to want him killed. I know I fall far short in my efforts, but I think I know what he meant.

      Unfortunately, I’ve also known many individuals – ministers and purported true believers and followers alike – who appear to have forgotten the most “fundamental” aspect of their faith and who, limiting the intent of the second commandment to a prohibition on cursing, use the Lord’s name quite vainly and very frequently to advance their self-serving agendas. Shame on them.

  9. Mariana,
    I hear you. I have struggled with having any contact with them for years.
    Its a long story and I won’t go into it but I decided that there is just no way given the circumstances that I can continue relationships there. I’ve accepted it and I am focusing on myself, my daughter and my grandson’s future endeavors. We have a plan to create something better that is community centered and cooperatively based. Family can be created through recognition of others that wish to live in harmony with one another and share like minded values. We applaud diversity but realize that there must be commonly shared values in order to establish a foundation for relationship. I admire your having contact with your *family*. Each person’s situation is so different that the individual has to come to terms with what they can deal with and want to deal with and what they simply cannot tolerate. I finally decided that nothing I did was ever going to matter and that in fact the more time out they had, the better they behaved but that if I got back into the mix they quickly reverted back to old patterns. Frankly, I cannot handle the negativity that reeks out of them. They are just toxic and I am detoxing. It took a lot of years and several different experiences for me to reach this point of severing the b/c of the guilt that is instilled with the control games they used. I totally believe that part of taking responsibility for oneself is letting go of responsibility for others. Ideally we should all be in this together and should be assisting each other’s journey. This thread is a sort of way to do that.
    Thank you Dr. Simon and Marianna for being part of that assistance!

  10. Dr. Simon,
    Thank you for your comment. You are so correct in your comment. Jesus’ words are so ignored for traditions of men, which he himself condemned. The commandment to love was utmost and he said NOTHING that had not already been said in the Torah. In fact he said he was the Torah made flesh. He said he came that we might have LIFE and have it more ABUNDANTLY. If the church and its leaders were doing their jobs, and walking the path he told them to walk, which was to follow his example, our world would look quite different. Unfortunately, the leadership rather enjoys the fruits of their hypocrisy today and have fallen into the very trap that Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his time about. Thus according to Paul, crucifying Jesus anew. I do not purport to being a Christian, I converted to another faith due to the abuse I encountered growing up. However, I read my Bible over and over for years and discovered a very dear and honest philosophy of life through the life and teaching of Jesus. I never rejected that, only the package it came in, i.e. the church. I do not wish to offend true followers of Jesus with my words, those folks I truly respect. I must say in over 20 years of going to church, I saw very few of them. The ones who were sincere believers I greatly respect to this day and value their lives. I truly appreciate anyone who is working to make this world a better place. May those who are be blessed with more strength each day and more peace.

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