It has been argued that in recent years personal accountability seems to be diminishing. Let’s explore that for a bit but just what is personal accountability?
If someone imitates something violent, they see in a movie, video game or on television, who is responsible? This is an interesting question and continues to be discussed and debated.
If a burglar imitates something he saw in a movie, are the moviemakers responsible for his actions? For a lot of people, that answer is "no." If a murderer says he was inspired by something he saw on a television show, is the network producers responsible? It is a question that is being presented to juries during criminal trials. Mostly unsuccessful.
Should our entertainment media aim for productions that improve character and inspire us to live better lives? A lot of people would say "yes." But the best way to ensure that this happens is to "vote with your feet." In other words, stop buying products sponsoring shows that conflict with your moral values, and write to the sponsors telling them how you feel. Recent events have proven that this is an effective way to be heard.
It is the same for movies. If you are concerned about a movie's message, do not spend your money at the box office. If there is a conflict with your moral code, no matter the reviews or how long the lines are at the box office, do not reward the movie studio.
Let's not be confused about personal accountability, either. Except possibly in the case of a genuine and serious mental illness, each of us is responsible for our own actions, no matter what the circumstances. Personal accountability means that we choose to take responsibility for our words, actions, and behaviors, and the outcomes they produce.
It does no one any good to blame a television show, a movie, the media, the so-called "system," or society in general for individual acts of violence or immorality. Personal accountability is the cornerstone of a healthy society just as it is an essential part of a healthy individual.
Accountability literally means “account-ability,” that is, owning the ability to account for our own life. To be self-accountable means to be answerable for the obligations and duties we have in our life by the very nature of being a human being. People who are self-accountable answers fundamentally to him- or herself in honoring a code of living, ethics, and integrity that goes to the depth of who we really are.
To paraphrase August Wilson, the playwright, ‘we are responsible for the world we live in. It is not the government’s responsibility. It is not our schools or our fellow citizens. It is ours, utterly and singularly ours.’ At the end of the day, we alone are self-accountable.