Observations on Group Accountability

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Today is the day after the fourth of July, so let’s start at the beginning.  Yesterday was filled with a lot of intense emotions.  I personally don’t feel like there was much to be celebrating as far as what the fourth represents—there is so much work to be done that I felt conflicted to celebrate anything. We reached a date that we celebrate annually so we feel either obligated to do something or we feel comfort in the habit because we don’t know what else to do. It felt contrived but, at the same time, I honestly didn’t want to begrudge anyone their need to let off some steam.

My family has an annual celebration out at my brother’s and I didn’t feel comfortable going for a lot of reasons but safety was first among them.  There are always a lot of people there so I knew it would be a challenge to maintain social distancing especially with a toddler.  Then I felt guilty because I was caught right in the middle of the emotions I mentioned above—I wasn’t sure what to do because we always do something but I genuinely didn’t want to go.  But I knew there would be issues with the family if I didn’t go and I also knew that my husband wanted to go.  I didn’t want to ruin anything so we did end up going.  I prepared myself as best as I could, brought masks, and I simply told those who tried to hug us that we were distancing.  And everyone listened and I sincerely appreciated everyone understanding.  We were able to have a good time and enjoy some fireworks so my anxiety was relieved simply by setting boundaries.

We got home when all was said and done and there were a ton of people setting off fireworks near our home—like 25 feet from our home.  Our dogs were terrified, it was after 11:30PM, my son freaked out, and they were way too close to our house.  And then other houses joined in.  Normally I’m not a party pooper but I was still coming down from emotions at my brother’s and, frankly, I was just exhausted and terrified that something was going to happen to our house.  I went down and I said something to them and they did stop but it was met with some resistance.  The old feeling of choking the life out of a party started to creep up but I stood my ground.

For whatever reason I started looking at facebook and I saw all the snarky comments from people about how the fireworks happen every year and that people need to get over it.  I saw red.  I don’t understand how people can be so wrapped in their own bubbles that they literally can’t see how their actions impact others.  It spoke volumes to the overall theme we are seeing in this country which is that it’s every person for themselves and people are going to do whatever the hell they want no matter who it affects.

That all eventually stopped and I got up early this morning and went for a bike ride.  The amount of trash I saw throughout our neighborhood from people lighting off garbage absolutely infuriated me.  So not only were these people behaving like absolute assholes, they couldn’t be bothered to clean anything up.  AND NO ONE WAS DOING A FUCKING THING ABOUT IT.  I found myself realizing that these people are my generation and a little older–they are the same ones whose parent’s bought them whatever they wanted in high school, who didn’t take anything seriously, and who started life getting their way so they became entitled.  Am I the only one who feels this way?

When does it stop? When will people get a large enough dose of accountability where they won’t behave like this?  What will it take to realize that we are out of control and that we have to do something?  And let’s play Devil’s Advocate for a second.  Say the fireworks aren’t an issue—the fact is we STILL behave this way no matter what the situation.  So this is a choice and a repetitive behavior pattern.  And all it has done is serve to get us to this point where we are fighting amongst each other and every day is a giant pissing contest of proving what we can do as well as finding different ways to be offended.  It’s exhausting.  And that is all I want to stop.  I want to stop behaving as if the world is owed to me and like my feelings, my fun, my good times are more important than other people’s safety.

Perhaps this is my old control issues surfacing.  Who am I to police this type of behavior?  Maybe it isn’t my place, but I know that I’ve seen first hand that boundaries work.  And I know is that if we continue on this path, this self-serving, selfish path, we are going to destroy ourselves.  All we need is to set some different boundaries and realize that we need to make some changes.  No one likes to hear that.  No one likes being wrong.  No one likes their ego threatened.  But we have to do the work because this isn’t sustainable.  Have fun, enjoy your time—I have no issue with that.  But if those times come at the expense of other people then it isn’t right—and we need a reminder in courtesy and ethics.

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