Holly Brodhagen

Holly Brodhagen

By Holly Brodhagen

We’re hearing about changes in legislation and policies about issues such as distracted driving and nutrition in fast foods.

I’ve always been curious why the government feels the need to step into the realm of personal responsibility… until I realized that they have a reason. They are seeing the results of a society that relying more on intervention.

Here’s an example. The fines for distracted driving have almost doubled. This is in response to the lack of public response to the original fines and increased number of accidents due to distracted driving, largely involving cell phone use. Will this work if it hasn’t worked so far?

People have proposed remedies like car computers which disturb cell phone reception, but isn’t this just another way for others to intervene rather then the driver being responsible?

It needs to be said: when is it your responsibility?

If you eat at McDonald’s every day and then have a heart attack, can you really blame McDonald’s for not making their nutritional facts more noticeable? If your children suffer from breathing problems related to smoking, can you really blame the cigarette companies for not telling you smoking will harm your children? If you get into a car accident because you were texting, is it really the government’s fault because the fines were not high enough to make you stop?

How did it get to this point? When did it become someone else’s responsibility?

 I remember my mom and dad teaching me right from wrong and attaching consequences to my actions. I remember groundings, loss of privileges. As I got older I was responsible for my schoolwork, job and bills. If I didn’t do my homework I faced the consequences – it wasn’t my teacher’s fault, or the school’s. If I didn’t pay my bills then services were cut off; the phone company wasn’t responsible for my mistake.

These days major corporations make horrible financial decisions and the government bails them out, customers don’t read contracts and companies are held accountable. Is it ever an individual’s fault? When do they take responsibility for it?

It seems that we are no longer teaching our children to work hard and earn privileges, or suffer the consequences; we teach them to barely get by, expect handouts and that consequences come only in extreme cases — sometimes when it is to late.

It’s hard to claim ignorance with so much so much information at our fingertips. We have to start being responsible for our behaviour and we need to pass this down to our children. If we don’t want the government to have a say in every aspect of our lives then we have to stop giving them the opportunity to do it.

 Holly Brodhagen is a citizen of Dokis First Nation. She holds a Master’s Degree in social work.