Episode 35: Can We Find Personal Responsibility Again?
In this episode, we have a panel discussion about personal responsibility with some members of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie. Then as a free bonus we talk about a church and state case recently before the US Supreme Court concerning flying the Christian flag in front of Boston City Hall.
00:58 Show Intro
03:55 Personal Responsibility Discussion
23:24 Boston City Hall Flag Case
[Transcript also available for offline reading HERE]
Voice Over 0:02
This is Glass City Humanist, a show about humanism, humanist values by a humanist. Here’s your host, Douglas Berger.
Doug Berger 0:11
In this episode, we have a panel discussion about personal responsibility with some members of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie. Then as a free bonus, we talk about a church and state case recently before the US Supreme Court concerning flying the Christian flag in front of Boston City Hall.
Voice Over 0:28
Glass City Humanist is an outreach project of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie, building community through compassion and reason for a better tomorrow.
Doug Berger 0:58
Welcome to another episode of Glass City Humanist, I am the host, Doug Berger. And we have a special treat for you today. Something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time is that I am President, founder and president of the secular humanists of Western Lake Erie. And we meet monthly, we try to meet monthly and have discussion topics. We have picnics, things like that in the Toledo area. And unfortunately, due to the COVID COVID situation, we’ve had to go back to meeting on Zoom via zoom. So I mean, we’re still active or we try to be active, we still are around. So if you do live in the Greater Toledo area, and are looking for a humanist community, look us up secular humanists of Western Lake Erie. In the credits for the show, we give our web address etc. And so what I wanted to do this time is we decided to take take a look at personal responsibility. That was the topic of the meeting. And that is one of, for lack of a better word pillars of the American Humanist Association 10 commitments. Yeah, it’s a play on 10 commandments, but it’s 10 commitments. And one of them is called responsibility. And so I decided to have a panel discussion with some members of our group on Zoom about personal responsibility. And I think I think you’ll really enjoy the conversation that we have and some of the points that are made. And it’ll bring, bring a better understanding. And so I wanted to thank our members, Jerry, Peggy, Margaret, Shawn, and Bev, who graciously allowed us allowed me to record the meeting. But sometimes we most of the time we record the meetings and put them on our YouTube channel at this time. I’ve edited the recording down to the part where we talk about personal responsibility. And as a special bonus at the end, the last 10 minutes or so, we talked about a current church and state case that the Supreme Court listened to just heard on Tuesday, concerning a flagpole in the front of the Boston City Municipal Building, or Boston City Hall. And some of the thoughts on that, I think will be pretty provocative for some people, especially some of my thoughts on it. So you might want to listen to that. So without further ado, here’s our panel discussion.
Doug Berger 3:53
All right, but anyway, what we’re gonna do is lead into the main program, and we’re going to talk about personal responsibility. Okay, and the graphic is poor, but behind me is from the 10 commitment 10 commitments from the AHA one of their pillars is responsibility. And they have the blurb it says I will be a good, I will be a good person, even when no one is looking and own the consequences of my actions. And they go into detail about it, about choices, making choices, being accountable for the resulting consequences, if any. It says although we all live in a society with various cultural values, expectations, codes of conduct and social mores. Ultimately, we all decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Being a responsible person involves steadfast attention to what is right and willfully burying the blame or praise for our own actions. And so if you look into personal responsibility, it’s, again being accountable for the choices you make good or bad. We also need to acknowledge and accept that our actions, whatever they may be, affect more than just ourselves. And those actions can affect loved ones, friends, co workers, even perfect strangers. Conservative people tend to fetishize personal responsibility. That’s like the be all end all. They use it to deny help to people who are struggling due to factors out of their control, like social economic status, or being affected by a loved one, substance abuse or, or physical abuse. Such use of personal responsibility against others, makes it seem that personal choices are
Doug Berger 5:44
gonna repeat myself be all end all. And that they believe that if one is successful, and prosperous, then it’s due to your happy personal responsibility and making good choices. And we know that’s not always the case, why somebody successful or prosperous. And it just as someone’s bad luck and struggles isn’t always due to just having poor choices.
Helps if your parents can give you a million dollars. Yeah,
Doug Berger 6:11
that too. And so I also believe that never taking the blame for your choices. If they turn out bad, it’s just as wrong. Just check out the many times that our former President tried to blame others for bad outcomes and his poor choices. There was that recent hostage incident over the weekend at that synagogue in Texas, after the incident was resolved and the hostages were saved. The Texas governor tweeted, prayers answered, as if some supreme being determined the outcome, and not the planning and the training and a dash of luck of the law enforcement on the scene.
And also the hostages that all those hostages had taken classes in and what to do after they rescued themselves.
Doug Berger 7:00
And so we also know that religious people religious, religious people tend to do that is they believe that the prayer is what did did it.
Not this guy, not this guy is a religious person. But he also credited his own knowledge and actions and cooperation of people.
But they showed a lot of courage.
Oh, my gosh, yes. kept him calm all that time. And then it finally made a decision to rescue themselves.
Doug Berger 7:37
And then the, the religious people also don’t acknowledge that maybe God had a hand in starting the situation, you know, they never give them credit for creating the situation
and never expect their God to take personal responsibility.
Doug Berger 7:53
Right, right. And so we have that. We see that too. When somebody shares on social media, a singed Bible, sitting on a pile of smoldering embers, that was once a house. And they say, Oh, God protected the Bible. But they failed to say, Hey, God burned down the house, you know? Why wouldn’t they protect the house?
Now even do that if somebody died in the fire?
Oh my God, it was God’s will, didn’t you know that?
Doug Berger 8:29
Where I think that personal responsibility plays a large role is in our relationship and interaction with our community. We have a moral duty not to harm our neighbors. So personal responsibility holds us to taking actions to make sure we don’t harm others, such as getting vaccinated for COVID wearing masks when indoors in public, we should do it not so much for ourselves but also to protect those who are vulnerable to getting the virus and possibly dying.
Well, that’s been the the glaring problem with COVID and there’s parts to it is that people are just saying that their rights outweigh you know, any any other problems might be going on.
Doug Berger 9:14
Right and that’s not taking personal responsibility. Yeah, you know, cuz they think that they have to take responsibility for themselves only. And that doesn’t.
Doug, you shared a video with me earlier today of the woman in Boston. Oh, her interaction at a with the police at a pizzeria or some type of restaurant. And so her the argument was about her not wearing a mask and or know her not producing her vaccination record, which is a mandate in Boston and so. The restaurant personnel called for the police, police showed up, she argued with them, one of the things that she argued is that she had a moral duty to, to not follow those rules, because she felt that they were harmful to people. And so she was challenging their authority. And that is, you know, in some instances, you know, it is our moral duty to challenge authority, when the authority is in the wrong and is harming the community is harming individuals. So, you know, if we, if, you know, I will challenge authority, when I see that police officers are infringing on the rights of people on the street, because they are guilty of breathing. And that does happen, and we see that and that’s part of protests and you know, coming forward in a in a group, that is our moral duty. And so, but people are able, they find ways to twist that around. So that it appears they feel personally feel that they are doing what is right. And,
yeah, they’ve kind of learned to be the victim, I mean, including some of these characters who are putting the the Yellow Star of David on themselves and saying that what’s being asked of them is the same as being victims of the Holocaust. I mean, I’m taking this is quite literally things that people have done. Yeah. I mean, just this idea of taking something like that, that is just horrific, and just deciding that they’re gonna play the victim in their own little fantasy world that has nothing to do with that kind of that kind of horror I mean, just this determination that my rights of go are what Doug said, and this very idea that they’re going to play the victim and find a story somewhere put themselves in it when it doesn’t apply at all.
I think they’re trying to say that they are the victim, because give themselves the validity, because the Holocaust, that was wrong, that was something that was morally wrong. But what they’re trying to give it some validity, because they know it, is it wrong?
Doug Berger 12:48
Yeah, well, what they are doing is wrong. Well, that they’re not complying with, with that. Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask. They’re equating that with being put to death by Nazis, and that, and so they’re, so that’s not a good comparison. That’s definitely not a compare.
They’re putting themselves in someone else’s story when it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to do that. Right.
Doug Berger 13:17
And what I was, when Shawn and I were talking about this personal responsibility too is even if you believe you are right, you still need to, for lack of better word, suffer the consequences. Right. So like, if you’re protesting, like the the summer protests for the George Floyd murder, and they arrest you, you have to be prepared to be arrested. Because you violated the law, even though your protest what you’re protesting, you believe you’re right and protest yet.
And that’s part of personal responsibility. You have you have the capacity to understand your reasoning. You have the capacity to use logic and critical thinking skills, to make choices for yourself, that may have consequences on you, as well as the people around you. And in making those choices, those decisions. You have to there’s no way to avoid coming to the logical conclusion that there are consequences.
And part of what they need to be responsible take responsibility for is learning the history so that they understand what the yellow star means and the consequences of that. So they put it in the right in the right context, so that they understand that why it doesn’t fit what they’re using it for. But that’s they need to be responsible for educating themselves about these historic things.
Doug Berger 15:21
Well, it’s just just like, this week with the Martin Luther King Day and these white supremacist posted, Kings comment about judging somebody by their character, not the color of their skin. It’s like, they’re totally missing the point. You know, they turned around on themselves, you know, saying that they’re the victim. And it’s like, that’s not the point.
So they’re determined to make themselves the victim in ways that are just grotesque.
Another thing that I haven’t understood in a couple of cases recently, is when they try to tell those of us who are trying to take responsibility. No, you shouldn’t be doing that, like, you know, telling us don’t wear a mask, or don’t get vaccinated. And what is it to you really, it’s like, I’m just doing this for other people’s sake and my own, but, you know, bad enough that you’re not, but now you’re telling me I shouldn’t?
Doug Berger 16:20
Yeah, they’re they’re shaming you for taking doing the right thing? Yeah.
If I’ve been bad lately, I, whenever I see somebody wearing a mask under their nose, or around their chin, I give them what for? Because I tell them, that’s not how you wear a mask. You’re not doing any good. You’re just making it worse for everyone around you. You need to pull that mask up and wear it right. And I, I’ve gotten some people to do it. Other ones, they’ll just look at me and shrug their shoulders. But I thought that somebody has to call him on it, or they’re not going to change their behavior.
Doug Berger 17:01
Yeah, the other the other thing, too, that that I’ve seen is, you know, you get there is two tiers of justice in this country. There’s the justice that we receive us lowly, middle class people receive and then there’s the justice that the rich people get. And well, I guess there would be three bad there’s also the justice that that the poor people of color. Yeah, yeah, there’s at least three. Yeah. And it makes it hard sometimes, because you see somebody, let’s say like, like a Trump seemingly getting a way with stuff, you know, or first energy got caught bribing a state official, and they’re still dickering about whether or not they should give that money back. It’s like, what’s going on? I mean, do do the laws mean? What they mean? Or, or what? And, and it’s usually the people that write the laws tend to not go by them. You know, it’s like the January 6 stuff. You know, we’ve seen a lot of the foot soldiers get busted and, and get punished. But we haven’t seen the ringleaders get punished yet.
Because they have to work their way out.
Doug Berger 18:21
Right, but, but I know, but it gets hard, because you know, that that work that is slow going. And, and people are like, well, so and so didn’t get trouble for it, then why do I have to, you know, bide by a stoplight? You know, things like that people, people might make those connections.
And beyond that, if they were really wrong, they’d be in jail. I mean, people still think well, maybe the election truly was stolen. And and if if they did anything wrong, how come they’re still out walking around still doing rallies and stuff? I mean, people think that, you know, if you did something wrong, and you’re not punished for maybe it wasn’t wrong, after all. Maybe that was all just fake.
That just sums up teaching. But you get a lot of that. Well, why is he going to do it? But I don’t know.
Yeah, yeah. If the bully gets away with it, the rest of the kids are maybe afraid of him, but they’re the Yeah, yeah, apply to him. And he might even enjoy getting caught as long as he’s not punished. And I think,
you know, when, when people are trying to do the right thing, and there are so many people who are getting away with doing the wrong thing. And it feels like the rest of the world who’s trying to do the right thing. They’re the ones that are suffering the consequences of the others. And because then there have to be blanket rules. People don’t want to get vaccines They don’t want to test, they don’t want to wear masks, they don’t want to stay home, they don’t want to social distance, they don’t want to follow any of those suggestions, guidelines, rules, whatever you want to call them, whatever country you’re in, and the rest of the world is suffering for it. Because we still have to live with this. The idea that somebody can storm the Capitol, you know, groups of people can storm the Capitol and attempt to overthrow the government. And I refuse to call it bullshit. protest of whatever it was an attempt to overthrow the government, it wasn’t just trying to make a statement about a false election, or, you know, not following the rules of the election process. This was an attempt to overthrow our government, it was an insurrection. And so now, the rest of us are living with those consequences, right? Because now, we not only live with the reality, and we’ve been lucky over, you know, the 450 years of the United States has been in existence, to some extent, not that long. You know, since the United States began to become what it is, um, we’ve been very lucky that we haven’t had attacks on our government, specifically. And, you know, I think since 911, that has become a reality for a lot of us that we’ve had to learn to adjust to. And so the entire country has suffered the consequences of the actions of those people, they got away with it, regardless of who was punished later, or what the outcome was 20 years later, the entire country has suffered the consequences of that, of those actions. And very, very few times, have we seen attacks on the actual government except during this pandemic, and during Trump’s regime. And so now it’s, it’s a reality. Now, my granddaughter is going to grow up knowing that when enough idiots managed to use social media in a coordinated fashion. And you elect the dumbest pig into office that that pig can take over. That 1984 is a reality. It’s not just the fucking novel. Those are you know, those, and, and when those groups refuse to take personal responsibility, and acknowledge that what they’ve done is inherently wrong for the entire country. Everybody else has to suffer the consequences. And it gets so frustrating. Knowing that tomorrow I have to wake up and take personal responsibility for myself again, regardless of what everybody else in the world might get away with. Yep. So I am still going to smoke pot.
Didn’t see that coming.
That’s my way to rebel.
Doug Berger 23:44
Just kind of going on what Shawn was talking about. It’s the example that Corliss Lamont uses in his book Philosophy of Humanism. He talked about a moral we have a moral duty to follow traffic laws, even if they aren’t convenient to us personally. And be reason being is if we all decided to follow our own traffic rules, then the real possibility exists, that our that either ourselves or others could be seriously hurt or killed. You know, if we decide that, that we’re going to drive 75 miles an hour, and not stop, there is a very real possibility that either you’re going to kill yourself or you’re going to hurt other people.
I’m always surprised when people talk about how, oh, the traffic’s so terrible. They’re terrible drivers in New York, terrible drivers in Chicago. If they were terrible drivers, they would have accidents and people killed everywhere. They’ve got to be really good drivers and follow the rules for it to work at all.
Doug Berger 24:50
And a lot of luck to Yeah.
Well, I think a lot of that is I think there is a lot of luck and I think it’s an IT Understanding when in Rome, you know, I, I used to drive a lot in Detroit when I worked for when I drove a truck. And I’d say people driving in Detroit during rush hour. Oh, there’s a lot of mayhem. And it is bumper to bumper. But then I started going to Cleveland once or twice a month. And I had to leave there during rush hour, and it is literally one vehicle in front of the other. And if you have three quarters of a vehicle length, somebody will get in front of you. There’s no such thing as in a assured, clear distance. But that’s the way everyone drives, they’re on certain roads during certain times of day. So if you aren’t prepared to drive that way, you just need to get off the road, because you are actually the one that’s going to cause problem.
The thing that always amazes me here in Toledo is when people complain about the red light camera, it’s you and says like, well, if you don’t like getting ticketed for going through a red light, don’t go through a red light, you know, and they call it a money grab, I say, so what, you know, let the city make money that way, that way, we don’t have to pay taxes. You know, let the scofflaw support us,
I have an argument with it. Because the only way that someone can stop me that someone can should be able to give me a citation is if I am caught in the act by an enforcer of the law. And a camera cannot be an enforcer of the law. It gave me a ticket for driving through a red light when I was in a frickin funeral procession. Everybody in my family got tickets that day. So as far as I’m concerned, if you want to pay your officers to sit at intersections, and ticket people, and that’s how you’re going to fund your police department, then you probably got a problem with your police department.
Doug Berger 27:21
Anybody else have any other comments or things that they want to add to the discussion? Okay, well, I hope everybody found this a little bit enlightening. Talking about personal responsibility. And hopefully in the future meetings will take these slices of the 10 commitment pie and kind of talk about it more in depth and try to apply it to our everyday living.
Voice Over 27:55
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You know you were talking earlier about the supreme court issues and the separation of church and state. There’s a interesting one that I read about this morning where there’s I forget where it was that they have a flagpole in front of the courthouse that they allow any groups to occasionally raise their flag there. And but then they denied one when it was a Christian organization, raising a specifically Christian flag. And the organization sued. And the ACLU and others are backing that suit, saying that if it’s been made available to all these other people that it has to be made available to the religious group also. I thought that was an interesting way to slice it up.
Doug Berger 29:19
Yeah, I think yeah, it’s a I believe it’s the City Hall outside City Hall in Boston, I think is where the flagpole is. It’s, it’s on city property. And, yeah, and I, I, I’m kind of one to agree. Now, if it was a flag of, let’s say, an aborted fetus, I would probably be concerned.
Well, you know, there’s a brought up well, what if it were a Nazi flag or a confederate flag? You know? Yeah, it’s like that.
Doug Berger 29:48
If that’s the thing when they when they open it up to be public. That’s kind of what you know, they had Ohio had a court case like exactly like that. It was they were putting up displays on the on the State House lawn for the holidays. And one of the Ohio KKK groups wanted to put something up. And they were denied and went to court. And they won the court case. But instead they got rid of all the public displays. Yeah. Because that’s what they do. You know, that’s what happens if you can’t, if you can’t control the content, generally, they’re going to get rid of it, and not do it. Because they just don’t want to
be especially when the Satanic Temple gets involved. Right? Yeah.
Doug Berger 30:43
But yeah, if it’s open, if that flagpole is open to any group that applies, then yeah, they need to open it up to the church group.
They, um, did they have any? Like, they say, civic organizations, or schools or I mean, I’m just wondering how they managed to keep a group of Christians from putting a flag up, that’s,
well, I guess they still have to apply and they were denied.
You know, what other types of organizations have been approved, or denied?
Not specifically, but I think it was probably things like you were talking about schools and clubs and all that,
like the YMCA, or, you know, troop 143 of the Girl Scouts or something like that. For H. Because as much as I hate to think about it, as much as I hate to ever side with religious organizations, you know, if if one organization with a religious background or foundation had got their flag up, I don’t see how they can, because as soon as you deny a Christian group, then they can deny an atheist group. And, you know, it’s not that I don’t want my rights trampled on. I don’t want anybody’s rights trampled on.
Yeah, I think playing fears is the bottom line, you know. And as Doug said, you know, sometimes the way they do that is to just, you know, stop offering it altogether. Yeah. No, I actually wouldn’t, wouldn’t be opposed to that idea. Because like, for instance, you know, the 10 commandments, things on courthouse lawns. Well, you could just as easily move it across the street to the church lawn. Yeah. And they’ll be in public view. You know, there’s no real need to put it on government property.
Doug Berger 33:01
According according to the news reports, the city of Boston have granted that flagpole 284 times, to different groups. And the Christian group was the only one to have been denied. And all those years. It was going to be the it was going to be the Christian flag, the white flag with the Latin cross in red and blue background. Yeah, in Boston’s argument is that it would be promoting religion, which is against the first amendment
for the government to promote a single religion,
Doug Berger 33:39
right. But that’s not how courts have viewed public forums on on on city property. Unfortunately
or else we wouldn’t still have the 10 commandments in Lucas County, right.
Doug Berger 34:05
Or the Ohio motto with God all things are possible. Ah, yeah. Yeah, the judge in that case said as long as the state doesn’t point out what Bible verse it came from, then it’s neutral
everybody believes in God Right, right.
Voice Over 34:34
Thank you for listening. For information about the topics in this episode, please visit the episode page at glasscityhumanist.show. Glass City Humanist is an outreach of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie, and is supported in part by a grant by the American Humanist Association. The AHA can be reached at americanhumanist.org SHoWLE can be reached at humanistswle.org. Glass City Humanist is hosted, written and produced by Douglas Berger and he is solely responsible for the content our theme music is Glass City Jam composed using the Ampify studio See you next time
Transcript is created by machine and is approximate.
©2022 Glass City Humanist and is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Written, produced, and edited by Douglas Berger and he is entirely responsible for the content. Incidental voice overs by Shawn Meagley
The GCH theme is “Glass City Jam” composed using Ampify Studio
This episode by Glass City Humanist is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.