For what it’s worth, here’s my take on personal responsibility. Bear in mind I’ve been The Other my entire life. Four of my first twenty years lived away from America, mercilessly scrutinized by foreigners for being “different” and when I was home in America, living in a segregated country that was integrated during my childhood.
The world is not a theme part. It is a place of capricious and lethal whimsy. Every personal action, purposeful or unconscious has potential deadly consequences. I’ve known and accepted that all my life. I do not presume equitable or courteous interaction…tho I am always grateful when it is received. When I drive, I assume you’re trying to kill me; I drive to deny you that chance. So when I walk while black, drive while black, breathe while black, I do so knowing there may still be an unhappy outcome.
I don’t regard myself as paranoid; rather just pragmatic. Make the best decisions available and live with the results. I see daily examples of Americans being bigoted, cruel, brutal towards minorities…and towards women (who cannot be regarded as a minority, OK? Half the money and ALL of the pussy.)
I have never carried a weapon as a civilian. I know who I once was…and have no doubt, by now I would have deemed several people worthy of shooting…and would likely have shot someone. I value my life and my freedom more than that. But countless videos of rude and abusive encounters with law enforcement often include elements of the ultimate victims having contributed to their own misfortune. Never mind the frequent bad outcomes for those fleeing a crime or engaged in criminality. No, they Should have been treated with more courtesy and humanity by law enforcement…but they had to know that they were complicit. My compassion is reserved for those who are authentic victims of misfortune, police brutality and residents of a world indifferent to what many perceive as “their rights”. Yes there is The Law…and that may enrich your heirs, should you receive postmortem justice…but it is cold comfort to your former self on a coroners table. So mouthing off about “the law” and “your rights” and trusting that your cell phone videos will somehow turn night to day is such an unrewarding tactic.
The Blue Code’s 1st Law: I get to come home safely.
Make it yours as well…and good luck to you.
PS. I evaluate EVERY decision I’ve ever made with negative outcomes; with women, with surgeries, with career choices…including my decision to accompany that mercenary team long ago in Vietnam. I didn’t have to go; I wasn’t CIA…and it ended badly. I can’t know what I might decide today, given another chance…but I would hope I’d make the same choice. That was who I was then…and whom I’d still hope to be.