It’s Up to You

Sometimes people, it is your fault. And that is okay.

Stop it.

Stop the blame. Stop the dodging and the deflecting and the recriminations and the pointing of the fingers and the obfuscation and all the rest of it.

Every now and then, just maybe, it is ok, as a fully functioning member of society, to put your hand up and say ‘Oops, my fault. I did that, sorry.’

That last bit is the key, the apology. But we will get to that.

Because before I go any further, on what will fast become a rant, I need to make it clear that I am not quite old enough for the ‘Back in my day’ rhetoric, yet I am one of maybe the last generations that is prepared to accept fault, to acknowledge blame.

To accept responsibility.

People fuck up. We all do. Make mistakes, errors, slip ups. From the tiny little oops moments to the big stuff ups, with cataclysmic results. Doing so is part of the course we have to plot in life. Therefore, it stands to reason, the young are going to do it more than most. It is how we learn, grow and develop. Much of who we become is due to the mistakes we have made and the learnings we take from that.

So how are we, as a society, meant to grow and nurture the coming generations if we spend more and more time giving credence to the enabling culture that seems to be pervading every aspect of our current and future lives?

The recent trial in the states of Michelle Carter, the vindictive little bitch that sent messages to her ex, encouraging his suicidal thoughts and indeed, his eventual claiming of his own life, caught my attention, as it did many around around the world.

What struck me, quite apart from the callous disregard from this sad individual, so remiss in being aware of the sensitivities and sensibilities of others (and the manner the youth culture in the U.S.A, from an outsiders perspective, seems to be so wayward), was the comments from the Judge.

His claim that Miss Carter ‘killed’ the poor boy in question, is bloody ridiculous. Did she pull a trigger? No. Did she force feed him enough pills to poison him? Mix anti-freeze into his cereal? No. Did she push him over the edge of the precipice he was so precariously balanced on. Possibly. And on that possibility, she has been charged, prosecuted and sentenced.

Rightly or wrongly is not for me to decide and I am not in a position to debate the merits to the laws, the American judicial system, that lead to such an outcome. What is up for debate, is how we seem to readily accept what the judge has stated. That Michelle Carter was at ‘fault’.

Yes. She carries some of the blame. A lot of it. And a huge whack of guilt one would hope. But with this ruling, the boy in question has himself been let off the hook. It was him that claimed his own life. Him and him alone, that cashed in his future. I am sure he felt justified in his reasons and felt the dire need to take such a drastic step to cure whatever it was that ailed him so. A tragic decision and ultimately, a final step he made on his own. Yet we, as a society, enable that. We tut-tut at the girl and her horrendous behaviour and so we should.

But by saying it wasn’t the young mans fault, which is as much the implication as anything else to be taken from this sorry state of affairs, is tantamount to that hoary modern chestnut….enabling.

God, how I hate that term. But it is real and it is happening all the time. More so, as the power and influence of people my age begins to take hold and wield more influence.

Enabling. An insipid creeping thing that has slowly but surely established itself over the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little more. We are letting those that follow, our offspring, get away with anything and everything.

Sure, we punish when the law is broken. I wonder, if that is soon enough. Are we punishing enough in our homes, our schools? Are we setting standards and boundaries and standing by them? Sadly, I don’t think we are.

I like to think of it as our Health and Safety culture. Okay, there is nothing wrong with being safety conscious in the work place, especially if that awareness is going to lead to the prevention of avoidable deaths. There has to be a limit though, a point where self responsibility kicks in, a stage where you can point the finger and go hey, mate…that was your fault, your complacency, your inattention, your arrogance, your responsibility.

 

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To that end, it is in the literature for all work place health and safety statements. The biggest threat to your safety is…wait for it…you. So why hasn’t that ethos filtered through, permeated, into wider society? Why are ‘we’, as a growing populace, being mollycoddled?

Out clauses are given every teetering step of the way. Our youth are told the problem lies with their upbringing. Perhaps, in many cases, it does. Then they are told the issue is the education system, or the health services letting them down, or their diets are poor, or our politicians are not listening, or there is too much foreign ‘gangsta’ influence, or their is no spiritual guidance, or their role models are sports stars and not scholars. Too much T.V, too much pop culture, too poor, too catered to, too ignorant, too privileged, too neglected.

It is not their fault.

There was a time, it seems to me at least, when people were encouraged to put there hand up, admit culpability, apologise, and everyone moved on. Now, it seems to me at least, there is more emphasis placed on the thing at fault, than on the solution. No one seems to be sorry anymore. No one is apologetic. Instead, they are accusatory, seeking to shift the direction of the pointed finger from aiming squarely at them. They all want to be forgiven, to be allowed another chance, a third one.

So when does anyone stop and acknowledge their own role in proceedings, when things go so wrong?  We are all quick to pat ourselves on the back when we achieve success, and rightly so. Be loud and proud when you do it well, when you get things right. Accept the praise with grace and dignity. Maybe, just a thought, we could try to do more of that with our failings.

Saying sorry is a good start. Everyone looks on that sort of thing favourably. I was taught to, so were you. Let’s teach the same thing to our kids.

Arrow SIgns - Not My Fault Shifting Blame

 

Look and learn

I’m drunk. (Well I was when I started this…)

Not so drunk that I don’t have motor control, or have lost focus, or my basic functions are making a fool of me. There is but the one monitor in front of me, my fingers are about as co-operative with the keyboard as they ever are.

So, I have had drink but I am not blotto.

Perhaps too drunk to blog.

I drink. Not to excess (read occasionally) and not all the time (read regularly).

The reality is, as I age, as I am handed one health report after another ( I have visited the doctor more times in the last year than I have in my entire life) I can no longer handle drinking to excess, in the one sitting.

Notice how I quantified that?

I no longer have the ability, or time, to recover from drinking to excess, which is now a multi day process. Sink a few on the Friday night in front of the footy…Monday at best. Down one or two extra on Saturday as my team (Highlanders by the way, in case you didn’t know)…Tuesday, afternoon. At best.

It is an aging thing. My tired old body, all aching joints and tortured internal organs, just can’t process my lust for my younger days anymore. Back then, in the so called good old days, I could smoke, smoke, drink, smoke some more, drink some more and get up a mere few hours later and do it all again.

In between I could hike, swim in the surf, play sports, work and do whatever took my fancy and not really care that I might be able to do it all that bit better, if I wasn’t supplementing my diet with alcohol.

Now, I don’t get on the piss and I don’t really know anyone that does. I drink and we all do and we don’t call it that anymore.

We imbibe.

Well, fuck that, I don’t. I ‘have a few’.

I can always ‘go one more’…

One for the road? I ain’t eating those ghost chips.

Drinking has made me learn some very valuable lessons in my life. Ones I might not have learned otherwise. Many, however, I would have never needed to learn. And there are bound to be a few I have forgotten.

Like I say, the binge drinking, the getting ‘on the piss’… all gone. Long gone and not missed. Now don’t go getting me wrong. I can still party, can still be the life of said party and I would like to think, I can do it without having to ‘imbibe’.

I have always struggled stopping at one but, I have come to notice, only when I am out. I can have a beer or a wine with lunch, feel very continental about myself, and never has my wife come home from work to find me comatose on the floor, the kids having made one wall of a fort from of my prostrate body.

But if  I meet said wife in town…well okay, not here town, but somewhere metropolitan town, then it is all on.

Ok, got me again. I just finished saying that it is far from being ‘all on’ ever again. Put it this way…you can drive, I won’t be able to. All going well, I ‘ll struggle to negotiate a straight line on foot.

I guess, in my own rambling, awkward to follow ‘what the fuck did he just say?’ manner, I am slowly working towards a point.

Responsibility.

It comes in all forms, all shapes and sizes and manners. Being responsible for your own actions, your own interactions, responsible for how you are perceived. The last one is difficult, a grey area when you consider a great deal of how one is perceived, comes down to the perceiver-not a word, but it should be.

At home, how you look, act and behave is very much something you are responsible for, something you have to be highly aware of… I will debate till cows come home the merits of people in our society being role models. People like sports stars, pop culture idols or musicians and the like.

As a parent you are the ultimate role model and as such, you have an inherent responsibility, to at least be seen to be doing the right thing.

To be right, correct, getting it all spot on all the time, is an impossible ask and beyond anyone. No one should, or indeed is, expected to live up to standards that are beyond us. All you have to do is stay aware and remember that everything you do, every step you take, every move you make (thanks The Police) they are watching you?

They, you might ask? You might not, but i am working on the assumption you did. The more perceptive among you know I am referring to the the great ‘They’…the kids.

They imitate. They replicate. They idolise. Kids, obviously, literally look up to you (unless you are my dear wife, who is starting to get taken over in that department) and it is vitally important you set the right example, the right standard.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is no sanctimonious, ‘my life is perfect’ rant. If you need examples of how I roll then sure…

I swear around my kids. I have even sworn at the them. The mild stuff of course, the type of thing that probably isn’t even considered swearing any more.

I knock my kids. In a very un-P.C way I give them all sorts of grief. Don’t worry, they give it back. I’m an easy target.

I mock them too. I put them down, I drag them through the mud and wring them out at the other end and you know the best part of it? They love it.

The thing is their mother and I have made it clear that it is all in jest. That there are boundaries and never be afraid to let someone know when someone is approaching them. The biggest lesson we have taught our kids, without actively doing so, is the importance of a sense of humour.

Kids don’t take themselves too seriously…for now at least. In their teens, way too seriously, but those days are yet to come. In the meantime all we can hope for is that our kids stand back and have a laugh now and then.

Yes, there are limits and yes, you need to be aware not just of yours, but of others. That is where the responsibility part comes into play.

So my kids see me drink, even drunk, but not a blithering idiot. They know the effects of alcohol and they know the detrimental side.

So my kids hear swear words. They recognise them as such and they know the time and place for them, know that it is lazy English. Know not to use them. They know that poking a bit of cheek at someone for a laugh is just that, having a laugh. They know that picking on someone is bullying. They know to be responsible for their own behaviour.

My kids know I drink responsibly, if there really is such a thing. Hopefully they will know to do the same.

And we know we are responsible for their responsibility. If that makes sense.

 

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