Wally Cleaver (played by Tony Dow) and his little brother Theodore 'Beaver' Cleaver (Jerry Mathers) in the middle of a stern fatherly lecture on Leave It to Beaver, a family situation comedy that ran on television here in the United States during the late 1950s-early 1960s. Typical themes included poor choices on the part of the boys, related behaviors, and learning to accept responsibility for one's actions by the end of many epsiodes.
With our ongoing quest for self-improvement in mind, here's another quality for thinking men (and women) to cultivate to much greater degrees than seems to be the case for too many in 2019. A large part of becoming and behaving like an adult is learning how to accept responsibility for yourself and your actions, whether those have been commendable, or less than savory.
We are currently going through a stage with the 10-year old Young Master where he blames every upset, every misfortune, or every poorly informed choice on someone or something else until we have the chance to sit him down and correct the issue. He is not unique in that respect among young children. Sadly, it is a self-defeating habit that I also see among far too many of my undergraduates -- young adults aged 18-23 mind you -- who almost categorically blame late work, low grades, excessive absences, and the like on external factors -- anything and everything else -- instead of simply taking a long, hard look at their own attitudes, habits, decisions, and choices.
Widening the lens a bit, this self-defeating tendency also features prominently among older members of the adult population. All you need to do is watch, listen, or read more closely. What you will notice is that many more people than is healthy for society at large blame anything that goes wrong in their lives, along with the unanticipated and/or the undesired on external influences. It is always someone or something else preventing them from getting that coveted promotion and raise at work, gaining a place on the church vestry, or managing to grab that last box of Ho-hos* or Mallowmars* from the supermarket shelf before another shopper manages to whisk it away from their manic grasp.
Notice anything here? The prevailing attitude is always something like, "I didn't/couldn't do X because my boss is a b----h!"
Yep. It's always someone or something else. This kind of thinking seems to be all around us now, from the perceived highest levels of society all the way down to the average person in the street. Yet maybe, just maybe, the truth is often closer to home. Think I'm wrong? Look again. Closely.
As I have written so often before here at Classic Style, much that is personal 'style' in the very broad sense has little to do with the clothes on our backs. Style has more to do with the kind of person one is. Do we continue to blame whatever comes up in life on external factors, or do we accept that we play some considerable role in much of that? Hopefully, a person upon reaching the age of 18 or 21 will know how to accept responsibility, for both good decisions and uninformed decisions, and continue moving forward instead of becoming immobile. Hey, a guy can dream, right?
While all related parts of the same problem, becoming mired in you own entrenched narrative, pointing your finger at others, playing the blame game, getting stuck on the same meaningless talking point rut, and attempting to discredit others who have acted in good faith are not attractive qualities in a person. Stuff like this is not, as my late maternal grandparents used to advise, how to win friends, or influence people. Neither is this particular approach a productive way forward. It leaves as much to be desired as appearing habitually dressed in the (apparently) same yellow necktie and ill-fitting shirt with the top button undone day in and day out.
*Ho-hos and Mallowmars, to the uninitiated, are calorie-laden, cheap chocolate-covered snack cakes sold here in the U.S. They are probably responsible, at least in part, for our obesity epidemic, which is not really our fault of course. Oh, pshaw! As late comedian David Brenner once observed years ago on The Tonight Show, "Stop eating!"
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