Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

Personal responsibility is one of the few areas of ethics I’ve followed with some dedication – well, I think I’ve followed. I don’t live my life as ethically or morally or honestly as I’d like to at times. But once a mistake has been made, I take pride in concentrating on my own  responsibility for that mistake and strive to do better next time.

Which is why I was so impressed with President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren today. The focus on personal responsibility, while acknowledging the difficulties that some may have to overcome, was touching, inspiring, simply put, and heartfelt.

I was a good student, though certainly not the best of the best. I also didn’t have an easy childhood, though it was far from some of the horror stories we hear so often.

Every now and then, my mom relives the past, worrying that our childhood somehow stopped us from having all the educational advantages she had dreamed for us.  While we try to remind her that our successes in life–despite some early hitches–far outweigh our failures, she’s an Indian mom…what can you expect? I also try to remind her that financial advantages and relative stability can only do so much; in the end, the only reason I’m not a future Nobel laureate is, well, me.

Well, that’s my brief story, and one reason why Obama’s speech resonated with me. What was your reaction to the much-bemoaned speech? Not to wax nostalgic, but I remember a time when a presidential speech in the classroom wasn’t considered a sign of Nazism, socialism, or any other ism (except perhaps patriotism).

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