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GENERATIONS: DOUG LEWANDOWSKI: 'He did it!' . . . 'She did it!'

"He did it!"

"She did it!"

"I did not!"

"Yes you did!"

Sound familiar?

When we hear these words, it's usually coming from younger children or teenagers who haven't learned how to take responsibility for their actions. We all like to remain faultless or at least blame free. Who likes to take the incoming when there's a screw up?

Saying makes it so, doesn't it? Not really. But if you say something over and over it starts to get traction. Consider this.

"She hit me!"

"No I didn't."

"Yes you did."

"No I didn't."

One of the combatants starts to cry and seeks to establish credibility for their accusations. The wailing and recriminations go on and on and on. Taking sides for a parent is a losing proposition. Trying to play Solomon makes the arbitrator feel like he'd rather cut his throat than pass on a wise judgement about who is the offender.

Unfortunately, the same words escape from the mouths of adults who haven't grown up yet. There are all kinds of systems in place for escaping accountability for behavior. The legal system is full of dodges when the piper must be paid. It starts like this.

"Officer, how was I supposed to know there was a stop sign there? That's a stupid place to have one. No one drives down this street! I was late for work."

Perhaps the excuse works and the offender escapes the summons. Other times the offender gets the ticket and decides to contest it in court, or ends up there in front of a judge for failure to pay the fine. Either way, by self-representation or hiring an attorney, the intent is to sidestep blame. The stop sign was still ignored. Trying to find the line where someone's immaturity, lack of foresight or judgement excuses them from consequences requires a steady hand on the judicial wheel.

There is also the "Eeyore" approach to life that things will be bad and you better get used to it. Whining takes top billing in most of these interactions.

"If I just had more time."

"She doesn't appreciate what I do around here."

"I am so tired. Would you bring the newspaper here?"

Another one, "life is unfair" shows up when misfortune or mishap has crimped expectations. Fairness is in the eye of the beholder and why things are given or taken away is way above our pay grade.

One comment frequently heard after a stretch of cold weather is, "We deserve this warm weather." Did we work so we could guarantee a nice day? How noble are we to have suffered through 10 below temps. Give me a break!

Yes, life is unfair, whatever that means, but it's also loaded with moments when the privilege of breath lightens every step. Taking responsibility for one's life is a sign of maturity. There's nothing like having a child or another adult admit without hesitation that their actions were out of line. We all screw up, but at least own up.

More of Doug’s writings can be seen at http://www.douglewandowski.com

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