The song “The Living Years” begins, “Every generation blames the one before and all of their frustrations come beating on your door.” Those words are true to life! No one seems to be wrong anymore! How easy and convenient it is to blame others, to not accept responsibility for one’s own life! The excuses are many: The problem is with “the man” trying to put me down, hold me back; no, the problem is with “the system,” the government, society, my upbringing, other people, etc. And the list goes on and on, with hardly ever admitting: “The problem is my fault.” “I did it.” “I made the choice to do what was wrong.”
A human is, above all, a creature of choice, a deciding being. He or she has free-will. The problem, then, is not always with “the system.” In fact, the problem may be with me. When it is, I need “to own it,” to admit that I am wrong. I am to blame.
Regardless of how difficult life is, such as a “poor” upbringing; defective genes “passed down” from my parents; growing up in a “rough” neighborhood, with lots of crime; and being raised by one parent, a person always decides how he or she will react to such conditions. I can choose, despite those conditions, to become a better human being, to decide to “make something” out of my life. In the final analysis, that choice is always left up to me.
The “stupid things” I did when I was young, I did them, not anyone else. Similarly, the changes I made to turn away from the stupid things I did, I, by the grace of God, chose to make those changes.
Surely, human beings are conditioned by external and even internal factors, but humans are not determined by such factors. Rather, because humans have free-will, they are self-determining, the “authors” of their own choices, the “causes” of their own moral acts. Jackson Browne, in his song “The Fuse,” is right, when he observes, “You are what you choose to be.” Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was also right in saying to Americans,
“I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”