Personal Freedom and Responsibility
The Coach's Corner
Published Jan. 4, 2012 @ midnight
"We, and all others who believe in freedom as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees." -Franklin Delano Roosevelt
What makes greatness? What drives individuals, teams, or countries to greatness? It is a question that has sparked many feuds, conflicts and even wars.
From the movie: Braveheart
William Wallace: I am William Wallace. And, I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny. You've come to fight as freemen, and freemen you are. What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?
Man: No . . . we will run . . . and we will live.
William Wallace: Aye. Fight and you may die. Run and you'll live, at least a while. And, dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance -- just one chance -- to come back here and tell our enemies, that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!
We as Americans more than any other country in the world hold true that freedom, above all else, is what makes greatness. It is the rallying cry for every soldier, patriot, and honest man, who understands what freedom really means. Alan Keyes said, "Freedom is first of all a responsibility before the God from whom we come." This means that we as free men and women must take complete responsibility for yourself. The day you stop making excuses that, is the day you start to really be in control of your life, your destiny, and is the key to being a person of integrity, courage and the guide to your own personal success and happiness.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it" states Thomas Paine. Responsibility is the great secret. We fight and die for freedom, but what we say and do must reflect the responsibility that comes with the great power of freedom. As Spiderman's Uncle would say, "With power come great responsibilities."
"The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission." The words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy are true. This price we have paid since the first pilgrim died on the soil of this continent. The founding pioneers that come to this country to escape tyranny and willing to take the responsibility of their future and their lives into their own hands.
More and more in American we clamor about our "rights", our "due", or what someone else "owes" us, and if we don't get it we sue. There is an entire industry in our society that feeds off people who instead of taking responsibility for themselves would choose to give up personal freedoms because someone else is to blame for their current state. "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." stated Plato. A quote that says it all about the lobbies that want more and more control over out lives, and the personal claims lawsuits that flood our courts.
Lawsuits on tobacco companies, gun manufacturers, car manufacturers, and the list go on and on. Where do we as a people hold ourselves accountable for our own actions? When we blame McDonalds because we are fat what we are saying is, "I can't handle the freedom of choice to choose what I eat, I need the government to regulate what they put in the food."
Paxton Blair says, "There has been in recent years excessive emphasis on a citizen's rights and inadequate stress put upon his duties and responsibilities." I find this to be true. The only right we have is the right to make our own choices. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as endowed by their Creator. Gerald W. Johnson once stated, "No man was ever endowed with a right without being at the same time saddled with a responsibility."
The power to fulfill our dreams is within each of us. Les Brown said, "If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams." Albert Einstein said, "Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom." We alone have the responsibility to shape our lives. When we understand this, we know that nothing and no one can deny us success.
"Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one's own person is its ultimate reward" says Patricia Sampson. We are the ones pushing ourselves forward or holding ourselves back. The power to succeed or fail is ours alone. "Responsibility is the thing people dread most of all. Yet it is the one thing in the world that develops us, gives us manhood or womanhood fiber." said Frank Crane.
Accept responsibility for yourself. If you are wrong, admit it, take the consequences, and get on with life. Do not dwell on the past, blame others, and expect others to bail you out. You can only change the present. Remember, it is not what happens to you in life that counts, it is how you take it and what you make of it that measures us.
The Bible says, "As you sow, so also shall you reap." The Chinese have the saying, "If a man plants melons, he will reap melons; if he sows beans, he will reap beans." Good begets good, and evil begets evil. This is one of the eternal fundamental truths of the universe known as the law of cause and effect.
What it means is that for every cause, there will be a consequence nearly equal in intensity. If we make good use of our minds, actions, skill, and talents, it will result in positive rewards in our lives. And if we take the personal responsibility to make the best use of our God-given talents in the time we have, the effect will be an enormous gain in personal happiness and success. This is true in everyone's life, the life of a community, and the life of a nation.
Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility. In the final analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life. If he persists in shifting his responsibility to someone else, he will never grow as a person. A tobacco user must face his own weakness to be cured, not sue a tobacco company. The first step in AA's 21 steps to sobriety is to admit that the individual as a problem. Only then can he begin to recover. Sophocles once said, "It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it."
The men and women of West Point, have a motto, "No excuses, Sir!" When you make a mistake or fail at an assignment, avoid whining, making excuses or blaming others. Accept a failure as a part of your learning process. Successful people live up to a mistake as simply and easily as they accept praise. Plan and prepare a way to do better.
Responsibility liberates. Responsibility liberates! RESPONSIBILITY LIBERATES! Sometimes it takes a 40lb sledge to drive a point home, but there is no message that is more important to a free society than this. It is the source of our success. If an athlete takes the responsibility of his own training, preparation, and conditioning, he or she will be more successful. It is easy to blame a coach. We are conditioned to do so in this society.
Blame a gun maker instead of a criminal, blame the beer instead of the people who let their children drink, blame McDonalds for being fat, blame the referee for costing us a game, blame the tobacco makers for our lung cancer, blame the coach because you don't win, blame the teacher for failing, blame the school for lack of discipline, blame someone, it sure can't be my fault.
Responsibility liberates us as individuals. It means making the best of what we have with our minds, talents, skill and abilities. Taking responsibility gives us the power to control the direction and outcome of our lives. You are responsible for you, or as Harry S. Truman said, "The Buck Stops Here." The following is the personal philosophy of Henry Bartell Zachary, a man who understood what it meant to take responsibility for one's self.
"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon if I can. I seek opportunity not security. I will refuse to be a kept citizen, to be humbled and dulled by having my state and nation look after me. I want to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed and never to be numbered among those weak, timid souls, who have known neither victory nor defeat. I know that happiness can come only from the inside through hard, constructive work and sincere, positive thinking. I know that the so-called pleasures of the moment should not be confused with a state of happiness. I know that I can get a measure of inner satisfaction from any job if I intelligently plan and courageously execute it. I know that if I put forth every iota of strength that I possess, physical, ,mental, spiritual- toward the accomplishment of a worthwhile task ere I fall exhausted by the wayside, the unseen hand, will reach out and pull me through. Yes, I want to live dangerously, plan my procedures on the basis of calculated risks, to resolve the problems of everyday living into a measure of inner peace. I know if I know how to do all this, I will know how to live and, if I know how to live, I will know how to die."