Personal Responsibility: Not Only For Libertarians

I am not a libertarian by any stretch. Well, not at least based on the standard definition of the term. However, I believe we need to take more personal responsibility. The nanny state is alive and well and I think that’s a bit rubbish. We should rely less on being handed things on a plate and do more for ourselves. I’m not necessarily referring to big things, like tilling the land to feed ourselves entirely, but smaller, sensible things like capturing water off our vast roofs to drink and do the washing up. Why must the state or some greedy corporation deliver these things on a premise akin to a right? In my previous life in the telecommunications industry I had people threaten to take my company to court because we couldn’t supply a satisfactory service to a place they chose to live. Ultimately, we have a lot more choices than we make out.

Nor do I mean that it should be every man for himself. Those with a need should have that need provided for. Some people can’t afford rainwater tanks – I forgive them for not capturing the liquid gold that falls from above. But most of us can make the effort to be more personally responsible but we choose not to. It’s a matter of convenience I think. We have become accustom to receiving certain things whenever we need / want them. These things are now considered rights or tenets of an expected standard of living. Great personal satisfaction can be fostered through taking on more personal responsibility, I think. We become more open to learning from our mistake and celebrating our efforts – we take less for granted. Studies have shown that growing your own fruit and vegetable, even some non-edible plants, is hugely benefit for mental health.

What got me thinking about this is a podcast I was listening to this morning – The Environment Show. The episode that got my mind-juices flowing featured James Woodford, author of Real Dirt. James made a “footprint change”, as he calls it, after becoming disillusioned with his fast-paced day job in the city and a desire to finally find home – a place he had been looking for all his life. James had a yearning too to become more personally responsible for his life. To produce for himself and his family rather than carry on supporting consumer culture. Life affirming it has turned out to be for James, his partner Prue, and their children. I really want to read his book. In fact, to iBooks I head right now…

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