Excuse Me? Take Some Personal Responsibility

Personal ResponsibilityIn the U.S., when we pass by somebody we don’t know in the grocery store, we say, “Excuse me.” If we are looking at the same clothing rack at the mall and we’re standing within 3-5 feet of them, we say, “Sorry.” And when we walk past them in the post office, again we utter, “Sorry!”

These apologies and excuse me’s have become a sort of greeting when you are within a certain distance of someone’s space bubble here in the United States. In Germany it’s wayyyy different.

If you pass by someone in the grocery store aisle in Berlin, you don’t say anything. If you want to walk in front of the yogurt display they’re looking at, you just walk right in front of them and grab your yogurt. If you need to buy a ticket in the tram, you push forward, cut in front of whoever’s standing there, and buy it.

The only time someone says, “Entschuldigung” (excuse me), is if they accidentally bump into you.  And even then they might not even say anything.

In the tiny, crowded country of 82 million people, Germans have a much closer personal spaces (although not as close as in some Latin countries).  Some Germans actually find it amusing that Americans walk around excusing themselves for no apparent reason.

Despite Americans’ penchant for perpetual apologies for coming within 3 feet of each other’s space bubbles, it’s ironic that so many people refuse to take personal responsibility for their own lives.

The Excuse-Making Mommy

A few years ago, I was meeting with a kiddo and his mother to discuss his educational placement. His bleeding transcript, chock full of F’s, indicated chronic truancy. I asked poker-faced, “What happened these three years? What were you doing?”

His mom answered, matter-of-fact,”Oh, he had court a lot so he couldn’t go to school.”

Yeah, right. Plenty of kiddos are involved with the juvenile justice system, and no one has court that much. Judges and probation officers WANT THE KIDS TO BE IN SCHOOL! What was this excuse-spouting mommy teaching her son by claiming such crap?

Frivolous Lawsuits

In our litigious land, the United States has become a hot bed of frivolous lawsuits as a way for non-responsible citizens to hit the jackpot.

Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch for $10,000 for false advertising in 1991. Despite drinking copious amounts of Bud Light, no women in tropical settings ever appeared, like in the TV commercials. Thus, Overton purported that he suffered from emotional distress in addition to mental and physical injury from getting too sick from drinking too much beer. Unlike the TV ads for beer in which ladies flock to beer-guzzling men, he didn’t any attract gorgeous gals. The court threw the case out.  How did Overton’s hokey claim even make it into the court?

Another man sued Michael Jordan for $832 million dollars because he claimed that the athlete looked too much like him and that it caused him undue pain and suffering because people constantly told him he looked like Michael Jordan. Hello?!

In Colorado in 2005, two teen girls baked cookies and share them with their neighbors. Sounds sweet and generous, right? One neighbor didn’t think so. Wanita Young claimed she had an anxiety attack from seeing the two girls on her doorstep at 10:30 p.m. delivering cookies. She sued for medical damages and actually won. Ridiculous!

When my daughter was little, she received a birthday party invitation to go jump on trampolines. Included in the invitation was a waiver of liability form that I was supposed to sign so that she could attend the birthday party. What in the world are legal documents doing in birthday invitations?

Take Some Personal Responsibility

Instead of pardoning ourselves every time we walk by each other in our local market, how about people start taking some personal responsibility for their own behavior? This country will improve when we stop making the blame, shame, and complain game, and own up to our foibles and failures.  We have the costliest legal system in the world. Liberating the legal system of frivolous lawsuits would drive down the costs, as well as allowing judges to get back to hearing real court cases.  87% of American voters perceive the number of lawsuits in this country as a problem. How about you?

No excuses. Take some personal responsibility, America.

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.- Jim Rohn


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  1. Billy Bryson
    March 30, 2014

    Being from the south we have what we consider manners from the time we are old enough to walk. Or at least we did when I grew up. We open doors for ladies, say yes sir and yes mam when speaking with our elders or those in authority.

    As I have traveled around, I notice manners are something that seem to be disappearing in parts of the country and with some of the younger generation. Not all by no means but with many who do not have a good family upbringing who feel like the world owes them something.

    Guess what? Nobody owes you a thing! The constitution states you have the right for the “Pursuit of Happiness”. NOT the “Guarantee of Happiness”. You want it? Go get it!

    As the parent of a first grader who is 50, I am responsible for my son doing his homework and not blaming his problems on his teacher. Responsibility begins at home!

    I totally agree with the frivolous lawsuits also! The only exception is the one with the lady who burnt herself with the McDonalds coffee. It was definitely McDonalds fault and they had been warned. All the ladies family was asking for was $20,000 for the medical bills but since McD did not pay this, it went to court and a jury awarded her Millions. Look at the truth here and you can see that any of us would have done the same thing. https://www.caoc.org/?pg=facts Somewhere I saw the actual pictures and even as a certified medical responder, they were horrible of her injuries.

    Lastly, let me say what I have seen change over all these years. When I was in school in the 70s, from my first day of the first grade, I carried a pocket knife. All the boys had knives so we could cut apples, cut our meat for lunch. It was not considered a weapon, it was a tool. Now is someone carries a knife to school at any age, expelled for at least a year. Why did we not have any problems?

    Because we were taught to respect people and to obey the rules. If I got in trouble in school and got spanked, I knew for a fact that when I got home there was another one waiting on me. And it did not make me mad a society. It made me have respect. Since prayer was taken out of most school functions and parents have stopped disciplining their kids at home, what chance does the teachers and education system have with being a good influence. Personal responsibility starts at home with your kids!

    • March 30, 2014

      Thanks for commenting, Billy. You bring up some interesting points!
      Have an awesome day and God bless,

  2. March 31, 2014

    This article is interesting and brings up many great points, but I urge you to do your research on the woman who was burned by McDonalds coffee. She wasn’t just burned by coffee, it was NOT a frivolous lawsuit at all. The media portrayed it that way, but the true story is tragic. Check out the movie “Hot Coffee”.
    Please fix your post to reflect the facts of that case or take it out.

    • April 1, 2014

      Thanks for the information on the McDonalds coffee case, Courtney. I’ve updated the article and will watch that movie. Appreciate you!

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