Tuesday, April 6, 2010

States are not moral agents, people are ...

GUEST COMMENTARY: Accountability is a dynamic element of citizenship
Monday, April 5, 2010 | 12:24 p.m. CDT
BY William E. "Gene" Robertson

In my neighborhood, I greet people with a "How're you doing?" The response is "I.m blessed!" With both an air of accomplishment and satisfaction. This means they.re right with God. The devil closed his active file on them. They have him beat. They are either in heaven or ready for heaven.

For many, being employed and unaffected by legal slavery, Jim Crow laws and experiencing only veiled racism is their idea of heaven. Obama and Oprah are further proof for them. Their attitude is mirrored in many other communities. Many other people are equally sedated. Too many of us have opted out of working to make the world a better place.

Many of us think that our civic responsibility consists of voting for the person whose placards are most prevalent on our neighborhood lawns. Our passive participation diminishes our power potential. Blessings are fleeting, they don.t last. We must be in a constant state of earning our blessings. We must put wheels in motion for good even after we are gone. We can.t retire on our blessings and we can't delegate our responsibility. There are consequences for our inaction or our failure to hold entities accountable. Dynamic participation is the only way for us to activate our power potential.

In these times of pedophiles, ponzi schemes, political payoffs, noncompetitive contracts, unwarranted wars, veiled discrimination as well as media bias and spins, courage is required of all of us. We must be vigilant regarding ourselves, institutions (both public and private) and those we elect, appoint and hire into positions of responsibility. We must not shy away from holding anyone or anything accountable for actions or inaction. Many people behave as if once they attain a position of responsibility, they too are blessed. Only when a crisis occurs are they activated.

It is our job to ensure that the people assigned, elected and appointed to appropriate responsibilities behave in our behalf. We must assure that transparency exists to assist us. We must be aware of all of the potential for positive and negative actions and outcomes.

Accountability might seem like an abstract concept until entities like Wall Street, tobacco companies, Enron, automobile companies, corrupt politician.s governmental regulators and even church officials are exposed. Too many of these entities view ordinary people as members of constituencies, audiences congregations or as customers who won't hold them accountable. They believe we will not make them suffer the consequences of their actions or inactions because we are too busy enjoying .our blessed status..

The negative and ineffective leadership of some authorities is endured and often ignored. If the masses don.t act to hold them or their actions accountable, little will be done to maintain the blessings we enjoy. The power potential of ordinary people must be enhanced. We don.t have to react with violence to hold people and institutions accountable. There are many ways to express our satisfaction or dissatisfaction within the boundaries of our freedoms and good taste. We forfeit our blessings if we fail to participate actively

"States are not moral agents, people are, and can impose moral standards on powerful institutions... The basic idea which runs right through modern history and modern liberalism is that the public has got to be marginalized. The general public are viewed as no more than ignorant and meddlesome outsiders, a bewildered herd." . Noam Chomsky

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus for MU.

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posted by u2r2h at 3:28 PM


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