Root of it all

There are a thousand hacking away at the branches of evil to one striking at the root. – Henry David Thoreau

But where is the root? How can you find it, buried beneath all that dirt? You can’t see it. It is down deep. Do you have the tools necessary to dig that far? Do you have the strength? Or is simply looking for it the answer?

So many people try to treat the symptom rather than the source. They attack the outcome. They run around in circles, never resting, because they don’t hack away at the root.

I want to cure cancer by preventing it. Not by drugs, but by better lifestyle choices.

I want to solve the pro-life anti-abortion debate the same way. I believe in better birth control through better self control.

I believe the cure for poverty is the same as well.

In all situations, accidents happen, but they are a minority. We can’t blame outside circumstances when the problem often starts inside.

We cannot keep living our lives passively as if someone else is going to rescue us. We can’t wait for a hero, a superman, or a Messiah.

Our parents, our schools, and our churches teach us this pattern. Sit down, shut up, and an authority figure will do all the talking and all the thinking. Our job is to parrot back what we have heard. Deviations from this are punished by shaming or shunning. We are told to stop talking or told to leave.

It is time for us to occupy our lives. It is time to be adults in more than name only. It is time to look behind us for lessons and to look ahead of us for repercussions. We can’t run on auto pilot anymore.

We have met the enemy, and he is us. – Pogo.

We are the ones we have been waiting for. (Attributed to Hopi elders)

We are the problem and the solution.

The lifestyle to which…

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not sure why I should have to go to work to pay for someone else to not have to go to work.

I get it if they are legitimately disabled. That is what the system is for. If you are physically or mentally too ill to work, the system is in place so that you won’t starve or lose your home.

I’m not talking about that.

I see no reason why I have to keep someone living “at the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed” when I didn’t marry them. I see no reason why I have to support someone that I didn’t give birth to. If I wanted dependents, I would have had children.

Some people seem to think that they are just sticking it to the government when they get a disability check or food stamps. They aren’t. They are sticking it to the taxpayers. They are sticking it to me.

The government gets its money from taxes. It takes from the poor to give to the poor. The rich have figured a way around this.

So I figure this means that people who are getting money from the government are my employees. They are getting paid by me. But where is the work? What are they doing to earn that money?

This isn’t a very nice way to think, I know.

But I also don’t like it when a perfectly able person is standing in front of me, trying to find their library card in their wallet, and I see the “EBT” card. This is the modern version of “food stamps”. They aren’t disabled.

I knew a guy who was really upset that his wife didn’t qualify for disability. She was mentally ill. She had multiple personality disorder, admittedly because of all the LSD she had done. However, she was well enough to run her own acting company… and he made enough money selling real estate that they were able to build their own house. Their dining room alone had more square footage than a three car garage.

But he still thought she should get disability checks.

I know people who think they should get disability payments for having migraines. Yet they refuse to get enough sleep and take their medicine.

I knew a guy who said he should be on disability because he couldn’t stand for long periods of time. Yet he walked for miles for exercise. He walked five miles from his apartment to the post office one day. He regularly walks the two miles from his apartment to the library. He carries a cane for show – it never touches the ground. But he thinks he should be on disability.

I’ve just recently heard of a guy whose wife left him. He was getting Social Security benefits based on her income. She has a serious medical disorder, but she was the only one employed. He has three cats, and makes sure they are fed. Very little is left over for his food. He also got fired from his last job for yelling at his boss.

So why should I pay for his bad choices? Why should I go to work so he doesn’t have to?

Part of being an adult is taking care of yourself. Why should I pay for a dependant that I didn’t create?

Personal accountability

I knew a guy who joined a gym, and he wanted me to “Make him accountable.” He wanted me to remind him to go, and to ask him if he had gone. I didn’t. I made sure to tell him that I wouldn’t.

That isn’t my job. I’m not his Mom, or his wife, or his boss. And here’s the most amazing thing – even if I was any of those things, it still isn’t my responsibility.

This is the heart of codependence. He was trying to get me to be responsible for his actions, rather than making himself responsible for his own actions.

He has to want to change, and to want to make it happen. If he isn’t motivated enough to do it on his own, he isn’t ready for it yet. If he needs a coworker to remind him, he isn’t ready.

Imagine what would happen if I had said I would remind him, and I didn’t. Then, the fact that he didn’t go would have been my fault. This is the heart of it all.

Blaming other people for your problems is the problem itself.

Once you become an adult you are responsible for everything you do. Nobody gets you up in the morning to go to work. Nobody makes your breakfast. Nobody takes you to work. Nobody does your work for you. It is all you, all the time. Anything less than that and you aren’t an adult.

Being over 21 doesn’t make you an adult. Your actions do. And the core of all of that is being responsible for yourself and not expecting other people to take care of you. Going hand in hand with that is that if you make a mistake, you own up to it.

If you have to have someone else make you do something, then you really didn’t even do it. You can’t take credit for it. The work isn’t really yours.

ID badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!

I don’t get why people won’t get their ID changed. I see people who have the wrong address on their license all the time when I’m signing people up for their library cards.

ID without proper information on it isn’t ID. If you are in an accident and are badly hurt, how are the police going to notify your family? How does this ID help the shopkeeper verify the information on your check, or the librarian get into the correct account?

The worst example I’ve seen was when a lady had moved and gotten married. That had all happened three years prior and she hadn’t gotten anything changed. The only things that were right on her ID were her first name and her birth date. How is this identification?

In Tennessee, you have to notify the DMV within ten days of moving. You don’t have to get it changed on your license, but it makes it easier all around if you do. The fee ranges from 8 to 16 dollars to get a new license with your new address on it. Making time to do it is a little tricky, because the hours for the offices are the same as the hours most people work, but then again so are doctor’s offices and people seem to manage to make time to go there. It is also possible to do it online, so there really is no excuse not to do it.

One lady recently said “But I just moved here in November” It is March. This is fairly common. I’ve noticed that when people say “But I just…” then some not-really-good excuse is going to happen for why they think they are above the rules. “But I just…” really means “But I just think that I’m special and I don’t have to do this.”

People will say that they are waiting for their license to expire before they take care of it. If your license is going to expire within that calendar year you can do both at the same time. Either way – you still have to do it. The law doesn’t care about your convenience.

They have their checkbook and bills with them with the current address, but not their ID. So it is readily apparent what is important to them. Cable TV and cell phone service are going to win that battle. They’ve often gotten their car registered too, which is far more tedious.

I told one lady that if she got pulled over with the wrong information on her ID that she might have to go before a judge to get it worked out. She got indignant. She said “But I am a taxpayer!” I said “So is the judge.” This stumped her.

Being a taxpayer doesn’t entitle you to break the law. In fact, if you aren’t paying taxes, you are breaking the law. Being a taxpayer doesn’t mean anything. The rules apply to everybody equally. You aren’t above them because you are a taxpayer. That is insane.

Getting your ID current is just something you have to do as part of being an adult. It isn’t impossible, and it doesn’t take all day. Not doing it causes far more problems. Ideally, there would be self-service kiosks where people could take care of simple things like this in most government offices, like at the county clerk’s office. I know that they are working on that in my county. But, it can still be done online if it is a simple address change from within Tennessee.

It gets more complicated if you moved into Tennessee from another state. You have to provide a little more documentation, but it is all stuff that you should have anyway as an adult. This includes your birth certificate and Social Security card. None of it is a surprise – it is all spelled out on the Tennessee DMV website. I suspect that all states have similar requirements and similarly informative websites. So there really is no excuse for not getting it changed.

But then the chorus of “But I just…” is rising.

I’m not going to rescue you.

I have this situation going on. I’ve come up with a way to explain it. It is all a metaphor, but it works.

Say I have a friend who is terrible at driving on the freeway. She gets all flustered and upset with all the racing traffic. She needs to go downtown, so I tell her the best route to take that doesn’t use the freeway. I’ve taken that way myself many times. I give her my GPS with the route programmed in. I give her a map.

And she takes the freeway anyway. Then she gets frustrated and upset. Then she freaks out and just stops her car on the side of the road on a freeway overpass. Then she expects me to come rescue her. She expects me to leave work and drive to where she is and take care of her.

She’s created the problem. She had a perfectly acceptable way to get where she needed to go and refused to use it. She doesn’t try to take care of the problem herself. It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a surprise. It was the logical result of the situation, because that is what always happens when she drives on the freeway.

Even though I did my best to prevent the problem that she is experiencing, she’s created the problem by ignoring me. And now she wants me to rescue her.

And I refuse.

And I’m seen as the bad guy.

She’s not acting like an adult. She’s not acting in a responsible manner.

If she did her own thing and got into trouble, but rescued herself, then it would be fine.

But that isn’t the situation. My plan is always to prevent the problem before it is a problem. And if I rescue someone when they ignored me to start off with, I’m enabling their bad decision making.

If someone keeps doing this, then I stop talking to them at all. They want me to help them, but only after they’ve made the situation infinitely and unreasonably worse.

I have no problem with helping people who try their best. I have a big problem with helping people who cause their own problems again and again. I feel that I’m aiding and abetting if I help someone who refuses to take care of herself.

If I wanted dependents, I would have had children.