THE BLOG

Personal Irresponsibility

09/16/2013 03:35 pm ET | Updated Nov 16, 2013

Is it me or has this culture gone off the rails when it comes to personal responsibility? I recently became a homeowner and landlord when my father passed away last year and left me a two-story house with two apartments. I live downstairs and had been renting out the upstairs until the tenants moved out this month. I am in the process of finding renters online and had quite a few inquiries into it.

I am astounded that after nine people made appointments, five never showed up. No calls, no emails, no text messages. Nothing. Maybe they found another place. Who knows? But isn't it common decency to let me know? It is a waste of my time and energy to be waiting around. This seems like Responsibility 101 to me.

When I mentioned this to a potential tenant, she said a friend of hers had a daughter getting married who sent out invitations with a stamped envelope for reply and many did not respond at all. Whatever happened to common courtesy?

A few months ago I hired a contractor (which shall go nameless) to put on a new roof, and he promised ahead of time to call with the date they would be beginning. Well, turns out he called at 6 a.m. and told me the roofers would be there at 7 a.m. that day. It's lucky I had the good sense to get the attic ready a few days before, but that was just plain irresponsibility on the contact person's part.

This all got me to thinking: What is it that causes a person to become irresponsible? Is it innate, or is it learned? I believe it is taught. Let's face it: When we are born we are all narcissists. Every baby thinks the world revolves around them, and in most cases it does.

But somewhere along the line we have to grow up and realize there is more to the universe than just our own being. We need to respect others and treat them as we would like to be treated (isn't this the golden rule?).

Those potential renters that stood me up sounded nice on the phone. No red flags went off in my head. Maybe we as a society have allowed people to be irresponsible for so long that no one thinks twice about not showing up when they said they would.

Maybe responsibility needs to be taught first in the home by the parents, next in the schools, then in our places of worship (after all, I believe it is a moral issue), and then in our government (good luck with that).

I took the est training founded by Werner Erhart in the 1980s, and the main premise of his workshop was to teach responsibility. They stressed being on time and keeping your word.

It's not just decency but common sense. I believe personal irresponsibility has a payback effect. It's called karma. We are all connected as human beings on some level, and what you do to another will come back to haunt you in the end.

I find it ironic that in this age of technological communication, people are not connecting. Is it laziness? Is it a non-caring attitude towards fellow human beings? Is it being so self-obsessed that there is an unawareness of others?

I know I would never keep someone waiting when I make an appointment even if I never met them in person. Could it be that while unaccountability seems a minor distraction, it is indicative of a cancer that has permeated our culture and led to a general lackadaisical attitude of indifference and rudeness that undermines our values and morale as a nation?

Could greater awareness of common courtesy serve as a ripple effect that may lead to a larger wave of decency and respect for one another? God knows we could use both of those qualities in DC and from our nation's leaders and representatives.

They say charity begins at home. Well, maybe courtesy does too. Hope springs eternal.

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