My father was a wise man who always insisted that his children took responsibility for their own actions. If we did something wrong, we would be punished, depending on the gravity of the crime, told exactly why we were being chastised, and, once everything was over, it wouldn’t be mentioned again unless it was repeated.
Governments punish people who break the law: criminal courts usually do a good job, although there are exceptions, with the guilty escaping punishment and occasionally, sentences given that are miscarriages of justice.
However, the legal system in most civilised countries takes the responsibility from the individual and places it on the state. This isn’t a bad system if the justice is fair, without political or religious influence, and swift. When you educate children and have occasion to punish them; you must make certain they know why they are being punished. It is no good
When you educate children and have occasion to punish them; you must make certain they know why they are being punished. It is no good chastising them for something they did two weeks earlier. They won’t remember it and will believe you are being unfair. It is a similar situation in the adult world – although investigations might take time. But the speed of justice is another topic.
So, to return to the question, should government responsibility intrude into our homes or personal lives?
I believe it should not.
It would certainly be difficult to draw the line at just where state responsibility ends and personal begins: and there would probably be some sort of overlap.
For example, parents have the right to educate their children in the way they believe correct, but the state also needs to ensure that the right of those children to a reasonable level of education is not being infringed. And what if the parents are religious or racial bigots? Should they have the right to educate their children to their own way of thinking, or should the state step in and remove the children from the ‘tender care’ of their parents?
It’s not easy. In this sort of case, a balance has to be sought. However, I am sure that the balance would not be agreeable to the parents.
And what about crimes committed by underage children? Who is responsible for the crime? The child – who might never have been taught the civilised way to act, or the parents – who have not educated their child correctly?
U.S. President Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk: ‘The Buck Stops Here’.
Maybe we should all have that engraved sign on our own desks and start taking responsibility for everything, absolutely everything we do.
It might make the whole world a better place.