Freeman

ARTICLE

The Irresponsibles

AUGUST 01, 1962 by KENNETH W. SOLLITT

The Reverend Mr. Sollitt is Minister of the First Baptist Church of Midland, Michigan.

Consider the vast number of decisions made for us and the decreasing number of things we can, or for that matter, are willing to decide for ourselves. Parents, of necessity, decide things for their children. When the children are old enough, they are placed in schools where most of their decisions are made for them. After high school (or college) every able-bodied young man serves a stretch in the Armed Forces where to make a decision for him­self might be regarded as un-American activity!

After that training in conformity we get more of the same when we join a labor union and are told when to work and for how much, when to strike and for how long, and when we work not to work too hard. Or we may become big business executives and be told whom we can hire, how much we must pay them re­gardless of their value to us, whom we can fire and under what conditions, what we can produce, how much we can charge for goods or services, and how much we must pay Uncle Sam for his services in regulating us to death.

We don’t even make a decision as to what social functions we attend, what we’ll wear, whether we accept the cocktails offered us there—the society in which we move decides those things for thousands of so-called adults.

But you don’t achieve adulthood by letting others make all your decisions for you. Freedom is opportunity to make decisions. Character is ability to make right decisions. It can be achieved only in a climate of freedom. For no one learns to make right decisions without being free to make wrong ones. As our Ameri­can freedoms keep diminishing, so does the character of our people. Can irresponsibles form a responsible society?

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August 1962

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Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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