THE BLOG

It's Time to Take Responsiblity

04/12/2013 13:36 GMT | Updated 02/02/2014 10:59 GMT

There's a phrase in environmental politics called Nimbyism, which stands for Not In My Back Yard. In essence it means that people want renewable energy projects such as wind farms to be built, provided of course, they aren't built anywhere near them.

The problem is, this is not a problem unique to sustainable energy projects. In all walks of life, people want things, but aren't willing to pay the price for them. If you survey a group of people and ask them if they want the government to invest more money in schools and hospitals, then they will inevitably be in favour. But if you ask them if they would be willing to pay higher taxes in order for this to happen, they are inevitably against it.

We have become a society that expects something for nothing. It didn't use to be like this. In my grandparents' time, - the first generation to get a free university education - they believed in hard graft. If you had something, it was because you had worked for it, paid your share and sacrificed for it. It we had asked them if they were ok with wind farms, they would probably not have liked the idea, but they would have managed.

In contrast we now live in what I have come to think of as an X-Factor society. We have come to expect that everything we want, everything we desire, will just be handed to us. We consider that celebrity and fame are ours by right, rather than something to be earned. We want the benefits of society, but we don't want to have to pay our way. We believe that because we are so magic and special it's not our responsibility.

Not everyone of course. A lot of people are more than willing to take responsibility for their actions. But enough aren't to cause a problem. Perhaps if people had thought about the effects of their actions, we wouldn't be in some of the messes that we are in now. If we want to return to a stronger, fairer society, the one that made Britain respected around the globe, then we have to go back to the way things used to be. We have to return to the traditions that once made us great, that can still make us great again.

We have to stop putting the blame on others, and start taking responsibility for our own actions. We have to stop believing that we are entitled to something in exchange for nothing, and put in the effort. We have to accept that - in the words of my favourite US Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr -

"taxes are the price we pay for a civilised society."

If we truly wish to leave behind a better world for the generations to come then we must start setting up that world now. And it falls to this generation to create it, and if necessary pay the cost of it.

It's time to take up our responsibilities.