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Assuming responsibility (editorial)

Recher, H.F. (2009) Assuming responsibility (editorial). Pacific Conservation Biology, 15 (3). pp. 150-152.

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When i was growing up in New York City during the 1940s, people (ordinary people anyway) assumed responsibility for their own actions. That was back when falling on an icy sidewalk meant being careless and not that the City had failed in its duty of care; when you could go fishing in the local park without first climbing a chain link fence designed to stop kids from falling into the water and their parents suing the County for negligence; or, when you could ride a bicycle without a helmet and there were see-saws in the park alongside slippery-dips higher than the shoulders of a five year old. I am sure it was the same in Australia. Maybe some of the changes in social attitudes and the proliferation of rules and regulations are good things. Maybe it is good to wear a helmet when riding a bike; it certainly makes sense to use the seat belt when driving in a car and maybe kids should not be allowed to risk life and limb sliding down a 2.5 metre high slippery-dip. What is not good is the increasing refusal to assume responsibility, to be litigious, and the growth of the Nanny State where individuals are denied responsibility for their own actions and we are all dumbed down by the expectation of authorities that we will all behave and respond like the least intelligent, least educated, most anti-social and most physically inept member of society. I find this trend to state control of my freedom to choose what I do, how I do it and when I do it frustrating and annoying; for example, I am not allowed to carry a pocket knife so I can eat an apple for lunch or open a bag of crisps because of an irrational fear of youth violence in Sydney and politicians needing to appear ?tough? on crime. But not wanting to assign or assume responsibility for individual actions has more serious implications; ones that impact significantly on the future of global biodiversity and human survival.

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Publisher: Surrey Beatty & Sons
Copyright: © Surrey Beatty & Sons
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