Who’s Responsible?

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

March 3, 2007

I saw Richard Simmons on the news the other day advocating a school fitness program. He was talking about the childhood obesity problem that we are now seeing here in the United States, and he was campaigning for legislation to mandate fitness programs in public schools in order to address this issue.

This reminded me of another program that I saw recently featuring something like a 200 elementary school kid. Apparently this child did not just eat meals three times a day, but actually ate a meal approximately every hour. The mother of the child basically defended her position by stating that she just cannot feed him enough, then after putting a couple of fast food combo meals in front of him, she took off into the other room to return to her drink and cigarette.

Now I understand Richard Simmons desire to enforce fitness programs in schools, but this whole situation forces me to think about where the real problem is. I just have a problem with a blanket statement that says that it is the government’s responsibility to mandate this stuff, because quite honestly that is socialism. And for a democratic republic like ours, socialism is the first step towards tearing down the very structure that gives us the freedoms that we hold so dear.

So what is the answer? To be completely honest, I don’t know. What I do know is that people need to have more personal responsibility. For example, in the story with the 200-pound kid…   The kid is only going to behave (and eat) the way that he is allowed to. I think that it is a shame to see a parent act like they have so little control over their children’s behavior. By continually feeding the child, it seems that she is only enabling him to live a lifestyle of overeating. And by her example of just lounging around, drinking and smoking, he is only learning laziness, as opposed to getting out and being active.

I would love to see opportunities for my child to have the practices of healthy lifestyle be reinforced while he is at school. However, as his dad, I need to understand that school should only reinforce the education that he is getting in the home. Ultimately, I am responsible for his education, not the school system (public or private).

Maybe the answer to this whole discussion is just in starting to take personal responsibility ourselves. The more that individuals take responsibility for their own actions, rather than blaming all of the outside forces, then the more likely it is for others to see the difference. Let me challenge you with this…   The next time something happens “to you”, ask yourself how you are going to react to it. Then ask yourself again, but this time ask yourself how you would react to it if you were not to put any blame anywhere else. Then figure out what you can do to correct the situation.

This can be difficult to do, especially if the situation involves something that someone did to hurt you. However, you can still take some personal responsibility for the situation most of the time. Did you do something that may have enabled the action (or reaction)? Was your behaviour completely appropriate? Even if you are the “victim”, or are not the one at fault, still ask yourself, what can you do to make the situation better. If you ask yourself these questions honestly, you may be surprised at what your ownership of the situation can do to make it better.


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Who’s Responsible?

by Dan King time to read: 3 min