Responsibility is for Other People

One thing I’ve noticed in a lot of different places is how quick people are to armchair quarterback someone else’s life and decide they’re being “irresponsible.”

A lady I know manages a rental property for a family member, and she was telling me about how stupid she thinks it is that she gets calls from military families wanting to know if she’ll rent to someone with two dogs and three cats. According to her, they shouldn’t have pets, since they know they’re going to move around a lot. It’s irresponsible, poor planning. Sure, if you know you’re moving soon, it’s a bad time to get a dog. But, because someone’s in the military, what, their kids aren’t supposed to have a dog? With all the sacrifices their family is already making? Seriously? Plus, cats and dogs can live ten to fifteen years. How many people stay in the same place that long anymore? Every pet I ever had as a kid was with us through at least one move, and my family hardly moved around at all. SO I guess that means just about everyone is disqualified from having a pet.

Another example showed up in the comments thread of an Alas post on We Are the 99 Percent. The post was about stories of people who have worked hard, saved, been responsible, and still are failing to make ends meet. One commenter decided to nitpick a lot of the posts to turn around and blame them for the problems. They picked the wrong major or spent too much on their degree. Again, sure, it’s good to pick a degree you can actually do something with. But “degree you can do something with” changes all the time, and is based on your skills. (If I’d tortured myself through a comp sci degree, for example, I’d probably be a lousy programmer.) And yet, somehow it’s reasonable to expect people to predict the future, or to magically become good at things they have no aptitude or interest in.

Sure, I get why people do this. If bad things happen to people who *don’t* deserve them, that means you’re not safe either, no matter how well you plan or how smart and how superior you tell yourself you are.

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