Part of the Solution: Accountability Begins Within
How to be the change we want to see.
Mudslinging has become a habit in the United States. Water coolers all over the country are busy making villains of Bernanke, Paulson, Spitzer, Madoff - it seems there's a new poster boy for our economic ills every day.
I have a different suggestion: I blame myself. The world is made up of numerous small encounters, decisions and actions. Have I been the best person I can be? Have I been the best father and husband possible? Is it enough to work hard and be faithful - or can I do more? Have I been a good friend, or am I too consumed with what I'm doing to notice those I care about? Professionally, have I done dumb things?
Being a money manager by trade, it's easy to blame the mother of all bad environments for everything. But that would only hide the unforced errors -- both of commission and omission -- that I've made.
Then there's the bigger picture. Have I made an attempt to make the world a better place by leaving it in better condition than I found it? Is that not the least all of us can do? Have I helped people selflessly, and given of myself – time, thought, and money – to worthy causes and people? Do I make at least one person smile or laugh everyday?
When I look in the mirror, I see someone who can do better. As long as that's the case, why waste precious time criticizing others? How can I point my finger when I, like most of us, am flawed? Whining is the one constant in every loser's locker room. Winners don't complain; they just get the job done. So I'm going to focus on making my little corner of the world better. Things just might improve if we all did the same.
I'm accountable to many people. I have a wife of 10 years who has blessed me with 5 young children, and they're my primary responsibility. I have people who trust me with their hard-earned money. I'm accountable to all of these parties. If I mistreat my wife or neglect my children, I'll grow old alone. If I'm careless with other people's capital, I'll be forced to seek other employment.
I bear the consequences of my actions. Accountability is what keeps us all in line, and I believe it's sorely lacking today.
Here's the point: part of our jobs as citizens, as Minyans, is to hold ourselves and those around us accountable. If you're frustrated with your representatives in Washington, what are you doing about it? Did you vote for that person? Are you in a position to mobilize like-minded thinkers to bring about change? If you're uncomfortable with the government's current plans to spend our money -- our children's money -- on hopeless entities such as General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, ask yourself: Do you intend to take it lying down? Have the citizens of this great country become complacent?
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