Personal Responsibility and the Denial Model

Personal Responsibility is all the rage these days. People are arguing left and right from both sides regarding this concept. On one side are proponents of personal responsibility which dictate that we alone are responsible for all the results are choices create. On the other side are opponents of personal responsibility who dictate that we cannot be expected to be responsible for our choices unless the choices that are presented to us are the best for our benefit. To illustrate this conflict let’s examine one of the front lines of this war: diet

A personal responsibilitist response:

We are responsible for all the dietary choices we make and thus despite the fact that corporations are making unhealthy food cheap and widely available the responsibility falls upon us alone to seek out healthy food. No one is forcing us to eat junk food and thus we cannot sue corporations for their constant barrage of junk food upon us. Despite the fact that corporations knowingly bombard our food with poisons to enhance shelf life we must take it upon ourselves to spend time finding and preparing healthy food because the corporation cannot be trusted to do so.

An anti-personal responsibilitist response:

We cannot be held responsible for the dietary choices we make because the corporate environment is bombarding us with unhealthy food choices. It is the responsibility of the agencies and corporations to supply people with healthy food because that is their job and ultimately their responsibility. Corporations serving us junk food + poisoning our food with additives while making healthy food practically unavailable gives us no room to make optimal choices for our health. Thus since the environment we live in doesn’t give us the power to make good choices it falls upon the corporations to present the right choices for us.

My View:

Which side is right? Those who read this blog regularly know that I am quickly losing belief in duality – that there is an objective right and wrong. I sympathize with the personal responsibility camp. Despite this belief though I think both views are right. I think both views are attacking different flanks of the problem and in reality both are needed to glean out the truth.

The personal responsibilitist is right because you alone are responsible for the choices you make. The anti responsibilitist is also right because you cannot hold accountability for the choices you make if the choices presented don’t allow you to fully express the choice you truly want.

Where does the personal responsibilitist go wrong? Pretend you were tied down to a chair and a bunch of people were kicking the living snot out of you. “You didn’t dodge my hits!!!” the tormentor would laugh as they continued beating you up – blaming you for not taking responsibility by dodging or deflecting their blows. If you had the ability to deflect or dodge a blow you would but the rope prevents you from fully expressing your true choice. Thus personal responsibility fails in this regard. Personal responsibility can only be executed correctly if the environment is ripe for it. In the diet context we presented above the anti responsibilitists seem to be right. We cannot be expected to make good choices all the time when the corporations are rigging the choices given to only suit them. The corporations have you tied down with their bureaucracies, agencies, and their poisons – beating you up and then taunting, “You’re not trying hard enough! You’re not exercising enough! Oh boo hoo take responsibility for your actions! You didn’t have to eat MSG and Aspartame and Olestra (even though these ingredients are renamed and ‘snuck’ onto everything these days without your knowing consent)”

Where does the anti responsibilitist go wrong? Let’s go back to the diet situation. Pretend only healthy foods were served everywhere and junk food, trans fat, corporate poisoning of foods were all illegal and punished by lifelong imprisonment. This may seem like a perfect world but with one caveat. You want some french fries. In fact you may want a Hamdog/Luther Burger or a fried Coke. One problem though – they are illegal now! Having one in your hands is a sure ticket to capital punishment as the food police has made agents out of everyday people. This doesn’t change the fact that you WANT it though. In this case you are not addressing your desire but DENYING it. Thus you never really conquer the desire in the first place or put it into perspective. You will just spend your entire life eating green superfoods while your desire for junk never goes away. Because of the denial model you never really grow as a person. Which one of these is the stronger and wiser person? One who smokes 3 packs a day and then finds their truth and quits or one who says, “I will never smoke…” without ever trying a cigarette at all? Pretend you are a recovering drug addict. Which one of these persons would make the better drug counselor – (A) the one who has done drugs and realized the mess they made with their lives and quit or (B) the one who has never tried a drug at all and does not know much about them. Thus anti-responsibility prevents growth because it forces you to make the right choices without realizing why.

What is the common ground then? Personal Responsibility requires the marriage of two concepts:

1) Having the ability to research and then make the choice you want in it’s true honesty

2) Taking responsibility for the choice you made in step 1.

Only by having both present can “true” personal responsibility be achieved. Step 1 requires honesty with yourself and knowing what you REALLY want. It also requires you to be truthful and research the consequences of your choice to see if you want them or not. If you are eating a baby green salad and absolutely HATE it but are doing it for “health” reasons then you are not being honest with yourself. Honestly you want to have a hamdog but your fears/insecurities/need for approval blanket your true desire with a false one (health). Thus without knowing yourself completely and doing all actions out of pure love (aka because you really WANT to do this action) you cannot be expected to make independent decisions. Those who also make decisions without analyzing all the possible results that may arise from it likewise cannot be expected to make independent decisions.

Conversely once step 1 is accomplished you must have integrity and follow through with step 2. You must take full accountability for the actions you made – EVEN IF THEY ARE WRONG. If you are wrong you must admit you were wrong and move on. People fail in step 2 when they make a decision, find out they were wrong, and then start pointing fingers and making excuses to relieve responsibility from themselves. If you eat some junk food fully knowing what it would entail and then get sick you cannot blame the food companies for making you fat. If you shoot someone with a gun you cannot blame the bullet for the impact. Your choice will reap consequences and you are fully responsible for them. Anything less than that would be irresponsibility.

The Denial Model

Earlier on I commented about “The Denial Model”. It is a popular tactic among those who do not take personal responsibility for their actions. In order to avoid responsibility they will adjust the environment in a way as to create “obstacles” to what they REALLY want. The smoker who wants to quit (but in reality REALLY WANTS TO KEEP SMOKING) will not keep cigarettes in their home. The obese person who wants to lose weight (but in reality DOESN”T CARE ABOUT LOSING WEIGHT) will remove all junk food from their home and replace it with baby green salads.

From personal experience I tried the denial model and I lasted about 3 seconds on it. You cannot “run away” from what you really want. As it has been said many times before, “Don’t be afraid of who you are”. You must know yourself and know what you really want – and then act accordingly with your true desires. The reason people put false desires over their real ones is because they fear that the desires they really want are WRONG. This is where my realization came into place – there is no right and wrong. The only wrong there is in the world is the wrong in which you deny yourself what you really want. Sure it may be politically correct to be right – but deep inside you will always know you have wronged yourself by denying what you want.

I’ll readily be truthful and admit many of the things people want are politically incorrect. Death, destruction, rape, pillaging, abuse, gluttony, subjugation, etc… are the true desires of many people. People choose death each and every day. It takes a lot of thinking and self introspection to realize this though – choosing death is ok! “You have the right to be wrong.” Choices in truth are neutral and are just choices – it is our labelling of some choices being more worthy than others which has caused our suffering. Read this blog entry to see why making “optimal choices all the time” is a stupid decision:

Ever wonder why the world isn’t paradise? Because someone out there is choosing death over life. And their choice must be respected because it is no better or worse than the choices we would want to make. Paradise to you might be hell to me and vice versa. Read this blog entry which details why things are the way they are:

Thus the only win-win situation we can accomplish is to see paradise in all (even if we judge it not to be) and only then can we experience bliss. Many will label this insanity – but think about this – we have judged and labelled since the birth of human consciousness and are we any happier than the person stepping out of the stone cave? No. As they say if you want more of the same keep doing what you are doing. True insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results the next time around. Discern – don’t judge – and don’t deny who you are. You will be much happier I promise.


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