01/08/2013 05:16 EST | Updated 03/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Don't Blame Karl Rove and the Internet: You are Responsible for Society's Ills

When I asked people why things are a mess, no one took responsibility for this crappy society we have created. No one said, "Well, I didn't vote so, X was elected." No one said, "Well, I didn't speak up, so X was bullied." Everyone blamed someone or something else.

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. File photo dated 08/11/07 a woman with her head in her hands as better services for people with suicidal feelings have been demanded by mental health campaigners.

Why is everyone so angry? Is it because they can't get their own way, or is it because people simply believe their purpose in life is to take care of themselves, and that others should do the same?

No matter what news channel you turn on, you hear about the horrific behaviour of your fellow-citizens or the misuse of democracy for personal or professional gain. Sadly, in the last 30 days, there are more examples to cite than I have room for in this blog, and frankly I am fed up about talking about them so why not talk about the cause -- our own behaviour or lack thereof.

There I said it: we are responsible for this mess, and by we, I mean all adults. Society today seems more like the Clint Eastwood film when he plays the crazy old man. Think about it: we complain, we harass, we hate.

Why and when did this happen? Over the holidays, I asked many people this question, and received answers that included Karl Rove, Ronald Reagan, Pierre Trudeau, the media, our parents, the Internet, and, finally, millennials, which is interesting, since they were born in the 1980s, and in no way are responsible for today's culture -- yet.

It is fascinating that no one took responsibility for this crappy society we have created. No one said, "Well, I didn't vote so, X was elected." No one said, "Well, I didn't speak up, so X was bullied." No one said, "Well, I didn't teach my kids personal responsibility, so they are not doing really well at work." Everyone blamed someone or something else.

Naturally, none of us did anything wrong. Everyone else did. All this hit home just after Christmas in my neighborhood.

I told my 12-year-old and her friend to go out and shovel the driveway of our neighbor who is blind. I was angry because my daughter hadn't thought of this herself. As I was storming out of the house and grabbing a shovel to help them, a man walking his dog asked me what was the rush and I explained. His response was as cold as the weather: "Why bother -- they can hire someone if they need the snow shoveled." I had to stop myself from going "Dirty Harry" on him. Doesn't he understand the perils of living on a fixed income; the need for living independently or at least believing you live independently? Or maybe he doesn't know who these neighbors are, or maybe he's just an ass. I decided on the last, and took the shoveling team down the street, my anger now directed at him rather than my daughter. But it gave me cause for thought. When the next snow came, not one other neighbor shoveled that driveway, not even the lawyer next door with the snow blower.

Now you may be thinking that I live in a horrible neighborhood -- I don't. I live on a picture-perfect, old-fashioned street with people that worry about themselves and their families. Are you any different? Is your neighborhood any different? I don't think so.

Our neighborhoods and our workplaces are the microcosms of our society. My research indicates that today's leaders and their followers are more focused on completing their tasks than they are on developing the people they work with. This means they aren't focusing on the people in their division. They focus only on the task their engaged in. In other words your employees are the man with the dog telling others to take care of themselves.

Research also proves that your employees are just like my daughter: pretending to be happy when I direct her to shovel. Employees are lying to you on their engagement surveys and their 360s because they know it's what you want to hear. Ask yourself do you believe that your employees really care about the firm or the quality of their work, or are they just staying at work to pay the mortgage because "it's a job"? Do you just believe those reports because it is easier than finding out the truth about your culture?

Does this matter to you? Does any of this matter? I don't know, but I do know that we will be doing a lot of shoveling this year.

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