Responsibility Rant

A story caught my interest and subsequent puzzlement and even anger today.   The family of a 7-year-old boy in West Virginia sued the child’s elementary school and collected because the child jumped off the swing on the playground while being Superman and broke his arm. Consequently, the swings in the whole state are being taken off the playgrounds. Playgrounds in elementary schools without swings?!  Bizarre.

What strikes me as simply strange is our unwillingness to take any personal responsibility. For anything. We want someone else to fix it for us. Handle it for us. Tell us what to do. Tell us how to do it. When to do it.

I remember when I made the decision to birth my first baby at home 27 years ago. With that decision came an enormous responsibility to be informed and aware. Informed about the process of the pregnancy and the potential for situations to come up in labor and delivery. My family and many others were stymied by this choice of mine. Their take on it was that the doctors know better. Forget that my body knew what to do. Forget that I took weeks choosing a midwife whom I felt was competent and capable. Forget that I had all intention to manage this pregnancy and birth with minute attention to my and the baby’s well-being. Forget that we arranged a back-up in the event of any emergency. It was simply not appropriate to take on all that responsibility. It was, however, just peachy to give all that responsibility to someone else. Someone I could sue if things went awry.

On the farm here we step up to take responsibility to nourish our gardens. I’ve been told that all that time and attention could be lessened by just using chemical fertilizers. They are, after all, made to do the job we take hours doing by tending our compost piles, spreading the compost, turning the beds, hoeing and hand weeding the rows. But, we want that responsibility. We embrace it. The buck stops with us, barring any of the myriad of happenings that can befall the fields that only god can administer.

I sometimes joke that I missed my chance at the jackpot of lawsuits when that same homebirthed firstborn son was about 18 months old. He was happily ensconced in the seat of a grocery cart in a lovely small gourmet grocery shop in suburban Connecticut while I perused the produce. Without warning the wheel fell off the cart sending Sky tumbling to the floor along with some Granny Smith apples. I picked him up, kissed the bump on his head and sat right down on the floor and nursed him, reminding him that he was just fine and drying his little tears. Within moments I was surrounded by management from the shop who ushered us into the office and proceeded to gush all over us with their apologies. I thought they were so kind, and, indeed they were. But, the underlying tension was more to gauge my potential to sue them for the faulty cart. Followup phone calls came from their attorneys inquiring as to his well-being. All I might have wanted was a free pass for their scrumptious cheeses!

It is our responsibility to eat well and consciously. To find the diet and path that nourishes our health. To learn to listen to our own intuition and our own bodies. It is neither the drug companies nor the doctors’ job to do that for us. The miracle of pharmaceuticals and physicians to step in when balance is lost or the situation is dire is irreplaceable. Just as irreplaceable is our own accountability in taking care of ourselves on a daily basis.

Shit happens. It happens to even the most wonderful people. It happens to little boys pretending  to be Superman on playground swings and little boys munching on Granny Smith apples. In these litigious days, it is our responsibility to watch out for ourselves. To empower ourselves and our children to make intelligent decisions for our own well-being. And to carefully weigh the options before casting blame and looking for compensation beyond ourselves.

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5 thoughts on “Responsibility Rant

  1. OMG! Just think how great your life could have been if you had sued and gotten all that money! Oh, wait…your life HAS been amazingly great…
    love ya girl

  2. Abrogation of individual responsibility plus paranoid fear of institutional/corporate financial collapse plus mass illusory belief in the achievement of technological perfection equals an exceedingly complex and pathological American dynamic which has evolved over the last 100 years, ever since the Industrial Revolution, I believe.

    “The system is the solution:” who remembers that particular advertising absurdity? If you keep on repeating lies long enough, eventually people will begin to believe them…

    Yet there is indeed hope for humankind. Thank you, Lee, for choosing to become part of the solution and not be part of the problem.

  3. I read your story about the little boy falling off of the swing while playing Superman. In these times where so many people are looking for and expecting a pay off for any discomfort or misfortune it is indeed a breath of fresh air. We need to add another ‘r’ to the three ‘r’s’ – responsiblity. Great posting!!

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