Sunday, December 21, 2008

Post No. 71: Our Responsibility as Citizens

© 2008, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

In response to two of our recent posts, dealing with same-sex marriage and abortion, one of our readers facetiously suggested that we were engaging in “mental masturbation,” while another suggested that we were “going in circles.”

Both comments were constructive in that they reminded us, here at the Institute, that we should occasionally engage in a discussion about why we do what we do.

There are three of us here engaging in multi-disciplinary masturbation. The Laughingman keeps us in check, and reminds us of the historical, psychological, and anthropological underpinnings of things. The Logistician is engineering, management, and policy oriented. The Optimizer injects the human and governmental elements, and impresses upon us the importance of nuance.

Together, we have a goal. We’re three Baby Boomers who recognize that, despite our lofty, idealistic goals and views in the 70s, we did little to improve on the citizen model. And for that we must take responsibility.

You see, we believe that all adult citizens bear most of the responsibility for the current state of our nation. Not our purported leaders.

We abdicated our responsibility each time that we stepped into the voting booth, we shopped, we worshipped, we sent our kids to school, and the manner in which we functioned as employees and managers.

And each time that we remained silent and acquiesced.

Someone recently suggested that we are approaching a new era in our nation with respect to the role of government going forward.

At the same time, we recognize that a new crop of kids will inherit a mess of massive proportions. Consequently, we’re here to assist them in recognizing that there are more than 2 or 3 ways to view any issue; there are at least 27.™

Because it is going to take thinking outside of the box, and coming up with bold, innovative, untried approaches, to tackle this monster. We’re getting our asses kicked, soundly, and the first step in turning that around is to admit that it’s our fault. Each one of us.

It’s now the turn of the kids to turn this thing around.

We will ultimately take our concept on the road and engage college students throughout the nation in a conversation about Personal Responsibility, and how the decisions that they make ultimately bear on the success of the nation as a collective whole.

We need more engineers.

We need more scientists.

We need more inventors.

We need more entrepreneurs.

And we need each member of these groups to tackle our problems, not from their personal perspectives, and what might be in their best interests, but what is ultimately in the long-term best interests of the nation.

We will utilize adults who have encountered and recovered from various difficulties in life, as teaching vehicles, in conjunction with the latest research on the brain, and decision theory. The goals of the Institute are the following:

(a) To provoke thought;

(b) To encourage students to consider their choices in life;

(c) To assist students in analyzing the decisions that they make along with the consequences; and

(d) To have them recognize the importance of taking personal responsibility for their choices.

We hope to achieve, during our discussion of issues, the de-personalization of the analysis, by avoiding subjective and partisan approaches. We believe that the analysis will improve through objectivity (as much as it can be achieved) and creativity, along with “digging deep” to expose the root causes of issues, instead of merely being distracted and sidelined by symptoms. We can thereafter craft better solutions.

Although maintaining the status quo might be, solving problems shouldn’t be, partisan and political.

If the election of President-Elect Obama signifies anything, it tells us that we all need to chip in and do our respective parts. It’s our duty as citizens.

It’s time for a whole new collective approach.

Remember, experience isn’t expensive – it’s priceless.

© 2008, the Institute for Applied Common Sense


  1. I am glad to have this explanation of how you see your purpose. Seems to me you are doing pretty well in presenting it. I certainly agree that it is the responsibility of citizens, not just adult citizens, for how our government works. When we elect out of ignorance or carelessness we will get the same result.
    Yes, there is more than one way to look at anything--more than 27! There are as many ways as there are observors. When we want to change something about our government, locally or in general, we need to honor our perspective, but not be limited to it as we work with others to improve things. We will always have a strong sense of subjectivity, but the key is to know that is what it is and be willing to bend and look for commonality. I do not mean, here, the least common denominator, rather pulling together points of agreement.
    Keep on keeping on, guys!

  2. Well thought out, well put. And I applaud the initiative. My questions to you would be:

    From what perspective will you engage these students? How will you avoid injecting your own favored avenues of thought?

    I like the 4 goals, especially (d) "personal responsibility". Probably because I think all endeavor is enhanced by understanding that concept. But how will that be reconciled in these days of bailouts and government subsidy?

  3. Thanks Dan for your comment, and your compliment. You're correct about the responsibility for our nation extending to all citizens, and not just adults. When our nation had fewer in numbers, perhaps it was easier for each one of us to feel that we had a stake or interest in the collective good. Although we are now greater in number, we have a different tool, the Internet, which enable a few to reach many. We feel that this vehicle and the New Media/Social Networking tools will permit us to disseminate our message to reach the masses. Have a good holiday.

  4. Thank you Douglas. We do not have a perspective. We do not have a favored avenue of thought. We only suggest that our audience ensure that they be diligent in performing their analysis.

    We do not think that it is that difficult to be objective, and to toss aside our biases and subjective notions in conducting our exercises. As we often say, we do not care about the result reached, just that it be reached after considering many different options and views. We believe that reasonable people can differ.

    We're not particularly concerned about the past, except to the extent that a historical appreciation of human conduct aids us in ensuring that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. No reconciliation need be made. What's done is done. We're about moving forward.

    Simply put, we have no baggage to bring into this discussion. Let's get some things done, not have balls and chains holding us back.

  5. You would be the first to encourage people to grow without injecting some perspective, some formula, on how to achieve that growth. The lesson of Hamas comes to mind. The world, especially the West (and the US), wanted democratization in west bank and Gaza. They got it and Hamas gained power. No perspective, no bias, presented by those offering growth or change.

    It is difficult, if not impossible, to speak about change without suggesting what that change might be. I hope you can do it and that the change is not something we end up regretting.

  6. Douglas, nope, absolutely not. We believe in objectivity and detachment. No need to advance OUR particular perspective, formula, or plan. We believe in the power of freedom of thought and education, not telling, or even suggesting what to, people what should be done. If we did, we would be marching one inch closer to totalitarianism.

    Can't have your cake and eat it too. If you endorse freedom of choice, you have to expect that the chips may fall where they may, and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THAT.

    Multi-disciplinary, collaborative interaction will yield a consensus as to the best course of action to make. One faction can not be allowed to pursue what it considers to be the best method, or in its interests, or based on its limited experience.

    As we once said, we don't care where one ends up, we just ask that the decision making process be diligent and take into consideration many factors, preferably none of which are emotional or selfish in nature.

  7. One of the more interesting things about blogging is figuring out why some posts generate numerous comments, and others do not. This post generated very little in the way of responses. Apparently, it was not particularly stimulating. We also suspect that folks thought us to be way off base on this one....


"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

"Experience Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless"™

"Common Sense Should be a Way of Life"™