Why The Phrase “I Believe in Personal Responsibility” is Really a Way to Protect Your Mental Health

I just googled personal responsibility and this was the first image

Disclaimer: I am NOT a political conservative or even a political communist; I ascribe to some principles the political left have come up with, but that’s the extent of my political philosophy now.

But, I’ve heard the phrase “I believe in personal responsibility” more from conservatives than anyone else; and it’s not a bad thing. I’ve long been seeing that the higher someone is in socio-economic status…the more they can dabble in liberal ideas; in how they see religion, personal politics, and the concept of political power just in general. This is to say, a lot of conservativism isn’t a philosophy of the rich; it’s usually a philosophy for the poor.

Western philosophy (a philosophy that can probably trace its roots to Rome), usually thinks of itself as the first authority people should look to in their lives. It’s where concepts of empiricism and science come from, and where a lot of not-so-great elements in most modern-day societies come from. Here the Christian God reigns supreme, so much so that to question any of the ideas here would still cast you in an unfavorable light amongst many people and especially many academics.

I want to be clear that the western notion of conservatism isn’t so much bad as it is, misguided; it’s slow to change, and probably for good reason.

Because of this, whenever I hear the words “personal responsibility” come out of a person’s mouth I try to ask them; in what stage of life are they in? Do they have goals in mind? Is that goal to obtain more money/better finances? In what socio-economic status were they born into? If they’re the average middle-class American chances are, they’re someone from center-left to conservative; on a global scale that is.

But a couple of months ago I got into a “discussion” with someone about leftist politics, and it left me wondering what exactly people think are “organized religions”. In the USA, there is a myriad of recognized religions; some specifically made to mock the more prevalent religions practiced within its borders (I know about the flying spaghetti monster atheists). And then I discovered Christian mysticism.

These aren’t scientific ideas, because science at its core is a system of trying to understand the world; and the universe really. And it still doesn’t have an explanation for everything, but then I thought what if there can’t be an explanation for everything in a complete sense.

A lot of religions ask you to let go of your worries, do what is commanded of you (by some God/Goddess or gods/goddesses), and take care of the earth you have now. And I think that’s a pretty good thing, and a good way to go through life. We are, after all, tiny specks of dust on a rock that’s orbiting a giant rock that’s literally nothing but fire. And of course, no religion will stop people from asking these philosophical questions of who we are in relation to all of this; and that’s ok too.

Conservatism is headed in the sphere old styles of communism were in before; a form of political secularism that almost violently opposes religious thoughts and religious ideas. In this, I think the idea of personal responsibility is doing a dual role that many don’t think about; it keeps conservatives in a state of perpetual isolation from others, while simultaneously protecting their mental health. Which again, is not a bad thing.

Liberal ideas of yesteryear are slowly being adopted by the center-right, while extreme factions of both the right and left continue to buy more guns. This idea of personal responsibility isn’t complete, it’s one idea and one philosophy and most people live by a myriad of philosophies; whether they know it or not.

I’m not asking anyone to adopt a philosophy of personal responsibility completely; that is honestly absurd to me. Just maybe think about what the term means to you, you wouldn’t even need to look it up in a historical context. Just sit and think, what does personal responsibility mean to me?

I can safely tell you what personal responsibility means to me; it means taking care of my parents & my brother (and even his family) while I can.

I am the oldest son, in a cultural sense it was going to fall on me anyway, but this also liberated me from other societal obligations. Things like: having children, leaving the house my parents live in before I’m 30, having to always perpetuate an image of a strong (physical) male. I don’t care for those things, so I don’t do it unless I want to. I learned early on that this was this case, I might have not consciously known I knew these lessons.

But I did. And I ran away from that personal responsibility for too long, but I’m here now. And I take the responsibility now; and honestly, my mental health has been the best it’s ever been because of it.

Some more communist-minded folks might scoff at what I’m saying, but hey…they’re not my responsibility. Let the people in their lives take care of them in whatever way they see fit; can always take a little personal responsibility if they’d like to.

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Writer/poet for hire and fighting game enthusiast. I’m a neurodivergent queer who is also a military veteran. I write about politics & culture sometimes.

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E. I. D. Esqueda

E. I. D. Esqueda

Writer/poet for hire and fighting game enthusiast. I’m a neurodivergent queer who is also a military veteran. I write about politics & culture sometimes.