I read an interested op-ed piece in the New York Times today written by Thomas Friedman, called “This Time is Different.” (full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/opinion/13friedman.html?src=me&ref=homepage) Friedman began with a letter from a friend of his who works in the Pentagon. The letter is reprinted below:
I’d like to join in on the blame game that has come to define our national approach to the ongoing environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This isn’t BP’s or Transocean’s fault. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s my fault. I’m the one to blame and I’m sorry. It’s my fault because I haven’t digested the world’s in-your-face hints that maybe I ought to think about the future and change the unsustainable way I live my life. If the geopolitical, economic, and technological shifts of the 1990s didn’t do it; if the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 didn’t do it; if the current economic crisis didn’t do it; perhaps this oil spill will be the catalyst for me, as a citizen, to wean myself off of my petroleum-based lifestyle. ‘Citizen’ is the key word. It’s what we do as individuals that count. For those on the left, government regulation will not solve this problem. Government’s role should be to create an environment of opportunity that taps into the innovation and entrepreneurialism that define us as Americans. For those on the right, if you want less government and taxes, then decide what you’ll give up and what you’ll contribute. Here’s the bottom line: If we want to end our oil addiction, we, as citizens, need to pony up: bike to work, plant a garden, do something. So again, the oil spill is my fault. I’m sorry. I haven’t done my part. Now I have to convince my wife to give up her S.U.V. Mark Mykleby.
In relation to the letter, Friedman notes: “I think Mykleby’s letter gets at something very important: We cannot fix what ails America unless we look honestly at our own roles in creating our own problems.” Isn’t that wonderfully true? It’s true of America, its true of our companies, its true of our local communities and true of our families. It is so much easier to blame others than it is to assume personal responsibility. I suppose that is why blame is so common in our world today.
Whether or not human beings have as big of an influence on the overall health of our planet as many claim in theory that we do is still debatable according to many scientists. What I do know is that the little choices I make from day to day have a cumulative effect. The more I assume personal responsibility for the direction of my life and the wellbeing of my fellows and the less I blame others for my troubles and discomforts the more right I have to voice my concerns for one thing and the more weight my voice will carry for another.
I am not one to contribute to the worst type of air pollution, the “smug cloud” produced by self-righteousness about lifestyle choices I make with the environment in mind, but this oil spill has got me thinking, how about you?