Crisis of Responsibility by David L. Bahnsen

Something to blame somebody for something.

“…the one perspective that has the potential to destroy us all, and which must be unilaterally rejected if we are to stave off the coming authoritative backlash, is embracing victimhood.  To reject victimhood, we must first understand how and why so many hot-button issues are being framed as scapegoat issues, reasons for someone to blame somebody for something.”

What has happened to our collective character?  What is this tendency we have to blame others? To not take responsibility for the choices we make when life throws its many curve balls? To scapegoat?

We embrace victimhood like a security blanket. While seemingly providing comfort, the reality is that it severely hamstrings us in our efforts to progress as human beings.  To flourish.

What can we do about, “our cultural addiction to blame”?

I’m on my second read of Crisis of Responsibility by David L. Bahnsen (Post Hill Press, NY, 2019) and there probably will be a third. 

Every now and then, someone comes along to give us real perspective. Bahnsen gives structure and context to this victim mentality that relentlessly plagues us:

 “…what has emerged in our culture is a ‘scapegoatism’ run amok – a victim mentality that is dangerous to all, regardless of political affinity or socioeconomic class.”

The usual scapegoats include the always popular “Wall Street”, “big government”, China, Mexico, trade, technology (automation, artificial intelligence, digitalized economy), the media, educational institutions, and other bogeymen. 

The victims, of course, are the rest of us who live on “Main Street.”  But are we just victims?

Bahnsen explains our cultural addiction to blame in the financial crisis of 2008. Of course, there is the ubiquitous and annoying demarcation along political lines.  The left blames big banks, lack of regulation, etc.; the right, social policy underlying the housing market, etc. This does nothing other than polarize an already dysfunctional society and, alarmingly, virtually guarantees another crisis.

So, what about the occupants of Main Street, the “victims”? Well, Bahnsen makes a compelling case that, “no financial crisis of any kind could have taken place without the envious and covetous irresponsibility of the people living on good old Main Street, USA”

Here are a few startling facts supporting his case for the “unravelling of virtue”:

  • Over the last 25 years, there has been a 108% increase in working-age Americans living off a government disability check.
  • The FBI estimates that during the first decade of this century, mortgage fraud increased 1000 percent (one thousand percent); 70% of defaulted mortgage applications contained “blatant misrepresentations”.
  • “At the heart of the financial crisis were millions of people who could afford their home payment, but realized that the sticker price they paid was far more than the present resale value of the home, and thus made the morally questionable decision to walk away.” (emphasis added)

There is plenty of blame to go around, and Main Street is not exempt.  Our “absence of character” facilitated the ever-ugly envy we have and “the presence of the intemperate cravings and utter distain for virtues of patience and truth.”

Fortunately for us, a cure exists. Bahnsen offers The Responsibility Remedy, 10 specific things we can do to cure this crisis of responsibility – our cultural addiction to blame.

If we don’t heed this remedy, well, history has a tendency to repeat itself.

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