Original Thought · Self Improvement

Rights and Responsibilities

“I have a right to my privacy” were the first words I heard on the radio this morning as someone who had been accused of possession of child pornography complained that his private life was being upturned and police and media were prying into his personal life.

The next story was about a group in Quebec challenging the governments plan to block Internet gambling sites in order to protect citizens from evil and preserve their gaming revenue. The group contends that their freedom of expression is reduced if they can’t access whatever they want on the Internet.

I was at a registry this week renewing my driver’s license when an angry man in his 40’s started shouting ” I couldn’t get on my flight because my license had expired and you didn’t send me a reminder notice.”

At yoga last night, there was a complaint that “the school didn’t tell me that my 5 year old would need to go into the gym for assembly, with all the other kids from his school. ” I have a right to know everything that could effect him”.


It is difficult for me to not be judgmental. Generally I have strong personal opinions that often don’t align with what I hear in my world. I believe that our rights should be defended at every turn. I should defend, you should defend, we should all defend. But with every right there is an associated and often unspoken responsibility. In fact in every situation, we bear personal responsibility for out actions and consequences. Rights can’t and shouldn’t absolve us of those responsibilities, they should encourage us to take both rights and responsibilities seriously.

Often the most vitriolic defense of ‘my rights’ is when someone feels that the treatment or service they received didn’t meet what they felt they needed. On examination, we might realize that we have been coddled by authorities in whose interest we have been absolved rather than involved in decisions and actions that impact us. I was aware, because I pay attention, that the government wasn’t sending out reminder notices to renew and marked a date in my calendar (well ahead of expiry) to visit the office and get it done. When incidents occur in my life where I am unhappy with the consequences, I ask ” should I/ could I have known? Could I/should I have done something else? Was I speeding? is my health condition a result of lifestyle choices?” Often I can’t change the consequences but I can accept that if “I did the crime, I should do the time”. Rather than being quick to shift blame to a scapegoat, it is more productive to accept evaluate my culpability and accept my role in the results. If atonement is needed – I like to get it over with quickly.

I don’t have any advise for those that see the world differently other than to suggest that sacred texts have been offering thoughts like “why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” for thousands of years. Maybe it is time to pay attention to the words and the log.



What Difference Does It Make?

I heard that question; “what difference does it make?” twice yesterday.  Both were in reference to the upcoming Canadian Federal election (but could have easily been about a dozen other circumstances).

One person, let’s call her Jill- a manager at a health care clinic, said ” it doesn’t matter who wins, the problems are so big that no one is going to fix them”. The second comment came from, let’s call him Jack – a retired teacher ” my vote doesn’t make a difference so I am not going to pay attention to the antics”.

Both are rolling down the same hill. By believing and accepting some form of futility, they are both absolving themselves of the responsibilities of democracy and delegating the decision to a shrinking percentage of the population. Even if I concede that they are both correct; it is futile, this is all we have right now. I urged them to reconsider their position and become involved, if not to uphold their values and hold those in power to account then to at least hold themselves to account. Doing nothing, not observing, not participating, not debating, not voting is a decision that has consequences (in democracy and life). Most often the choice to disengage becomes complicit with the status quo so only makes sense if you are completely satisfied. That is not what I hear Jack and Jill saying.

Become involved rather than absolved, fetch your own pail of water and avoid falling down hills.




I attended a webinar this week presented by Joanne Connell PhD based on her work and book ” Flying without a Helicopter: How to prepare young people for work and life”. As a parent a child development expert she asserts that parents are doing their children a  disservice by overprotecting them from the world and never letting them fail. When asked ” How early should parents be letting their children struggle and fail in order to succeed?” she responded “from birth really”.

I have long been concerned that children are being raised without a sense of consequences. They seem to pass not because they succeed but because their feelings can’t be hurt. They try something once and give up because “they don’t like it”. “Parents are following advice on how to sculpt their children into the perfect applicants before their children are even born. The problem is that the mold the parents are working from does not generate young adults who are able to succeed at work—with or without the coveted college degree. This problem is growing, not declining, with today’s hyper competitive, helicopter and lawnmower parenting trends.”

Thanks to Weaving Influence for hosting the webinar and providing these links.
Here is a link to the recording of the webinar for you to view or review at your convenience.
If you enjoyed the webinar, I encourage you to buy a copy of her book TODAY. It’s available in hard back, paperback, or Kindle.