Responsibility Sets You Free

Personal responsibility is something we must be taught from those who care for us

By Philip Whittingham

‘That’s where the car ended up, right in front of that building, over there.’

“Looks like you had a lucky escape there son.”

I was describing to my dad where the car I’d been travelling in, had stopped, after the collision

Two cars (I was the passenger in one of them) had been racing against each other when they’d collided. My memory is a little sketchy, as I did sustain a sharp bang, to the head. What I do remember though, is the car I was travelling in (a mini) driving straight over a high curbed central reservation. There was a loud bang, followed by a shower of sparks, as the underside of the car came into contact with the curb. It then went on to mount the curb on the opposite side of the road, continued on over a large lawn, ending up a good few hundred yards away from the main road. It stopped just short of the front wall of a block of flats, right underneath someone’s lounge, window.

The driver and I practically fell out of the car to take a look. Four flat tyres, both bumpers hanging off, and when we looked under the bonnet, the engine was no longer sitting squarely where it should have been. In other words it was knackered. The driver, a chap called Jason as it should happen, was obviously very upset about his car. I walked away thinking how lucky I was to be alive. If the car had rolled I wouldn’t be sharing this story with you today.

Now, if I’d died, would my parents, or the police for that matter, have pursued the driver for manslaughter? You know what? I very much doubt it. So what’s changed?

We now live in a blame society, that’s what’s changed. Victims have become blameless. When ‘family’ suffer loss or pain, it seems the victim is then completely relinquished of any fault, or responsibility whatsoever. We all seem to be looking to blame someone else. And the question that pops into my mind is: what’s the point? If someone dies, then surely that’s the end of it. What do we have to gain by looking to pin the blame on someone else? Piece of mind? Revenge? Justice?

Think of the current situation with Jack Shepherd

How is it he’s completely to blame? Did he plan to hit the log in the river that turned the boat? Was it not also the responsibility of the woman who died, to recognise, that climbing into speedboats with drunken idiots, is never a good idea? Are the judges and lawyers saying she was vulnerable because she was female? Is that not sexist?

Was it my responsibility to stay away from Jason who turned out to be a naive and foolish young man? If I’d been any wiser at the time I would have. Who’s responsibility was it to teach me about the ways of the world? I was fortunate enough to survive the car crash and consequently never saw Jason again. My new found wisdom from surviving an accident, has saved me from ever getting in a car with such a person, ever again. If I’d been killed, or seriously injured, is it then right and proper, that I should be relinquished (dead or alive) of any responsibility? We must all protect ourselves from idiots and ignorance. The world is full of both.

Dear future parents,

Please, please, please inform your kids, and help them understand, the world is full of foolish idiots. If they don’t know this to begin with, does this then mean it’s the responsibility of the idiots, to look after your children? No, this is a failure of parents to properly look out for the children – through educating them to the ways – of a fucked-up world.

The guilt of this failing is often felt (unconsciously) after the event. Parents then go on, to pin all the blame on some poor, foolish arshole. This then feeds the illusion that guilt will be eased through justice (Ha!) and revenge (Ha!). Jack Shepherd might be an idiot, but the thing is, he made a mistake. His date also made a mistake. Should two lives be ruined because of this? Or would it be better to have educated them both against the dangers to start with? Would it be better to find ways to get young, foolish people, to start listening? The way we do this, is for them to have parents, they respect and love. Never through teaching that we must find justice and/or revenge. In the long term, those two things, always turn out to be an illusion.

When my father stated; “Looks like you had a lucky escape there son.”

I took that as: don’t fuck-up again, because next time, you might not be quite so lucky. Pass it on.

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