"The first of the dreams that [my parents] instilled in me was individual responsibility and accountability. They taught me that in life you have consequences to each and every decision that you make, and when you try to shy away from those decisions, when you try to shy away from those consequences then someone will come in and allow you to be seen as a victim, and when you become seen as a victim, it’s a spiraling slope downward and downward. Before the next thing you know, you become dependent upon something and right here in the United States of America this is one of the things that we combat against because too many Americans are being castigated as victims. Too many Americans are not being individually responsible and accountable. Too many Americans are becoming dependent upon government and therefore government continues to grow. My parents and their dream was to have a son that was not a victim, but a son that was a victor, and that enables me to stand here before you today."
Col. Allen West
(1961-) U.S. Congressman (FL-R), retired Lt. Colonel in US Army
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Reader comments about this quote:
Col. West, I sure wish I'd had *your* parents to raise me. You're a lucky man. It's interesting how people from intact families whose mother and father paid attention to their children's upbringing often become political conservatives. Indeed, they have something worthy of conservation.
 -- Byron, Fort Collins     
    Commendable, admirable and reminiscent of the American way.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    He makes the mistake of equating external help (a hand up) with being a victim (being externally pushed down). One must first understand that bad things happen to good people, and that once you do understand that, then it is not hard to see that to be good yourself, you must provide those in need with a hand up (rather than contributing to the forces which would laugh at them and push them back down).
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA, US     
    Reston, truly you are graduate of the Hillary school of "everybody is bad" and that's why we need to male ALL their decisions for them. A hand up...is what creates dependency that never ends...and it was NEVER the governments job to steal our money and allocate it to the very lazy. Any "hand up" should be a community effort, not a Federal Policy. My God, but you are so ready to destroy the country through misguided intention.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Reston, when someone is truly in need through no fault of their own, we should help them. However, we have a huge group of people in this country who love this victim role and won't take resposibility to improve their situation. Case in point, we have over 40 million people on food stamps in this land where opportunity abounds. I volunteer in a program to aid the homeless and at least 30% of these people could do better and should not be on the street. They get to many freebies to bother looking for work.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
    Since when has Reston ever been reminiscent of then American way?
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
    A great observation of diverse perceptions. The 'A' from Reston's theocratic dogmas that continue numerical victim enlargement, as is opposed to personal responsibility, is illuminated by the quote. I've told my story here ad nauseam (I didn't have as much as a car for my young family to sleep in and without any government help- in fact, government road blocks all along the way, built a comfortable life style) only to show the accuracy of the concept set forth by the quote. I think jim's 30% is a low assessment according to my family and my volunteer effort observations. I think jim was trying to be kind.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    It is not the 'end' (helping those in need) that is the issue, it is the 'means' by which people are helped. Reston is the first to condemn religion, so therefore finds it difficult to imagine people helping people voluntarily -- why should they? That is why he believes we must be taxed so that we can hire people who will be 'charitable' with other people's money. Secondly, most of the economic ills creating so much poverty in America is due to the social engineering being attempted by statism -- as if the collectivists have figured out how life works and how to control it instead of allowing life to unfold as it does. The problem with socialism is that it does not instill a sense of personal responsibility, it instead instills a sense of blame -- 'When are 'they' going to fix this?!" 'They' are never 'We' in a collectivist system except when 'we' are going to save the world, except, it isn't 'we' it is the government which is made up of the most power hungry and elitist folks in the country -- WHO PRODUCE NOTHING BUT DEBTS. I give to some homeless people and charities in my daily life, but I cannot give more than I have -- that would be suicidal. SO we cannot expect our government to spend more than it has for the 'general welfare' -- what is more important to the general welfare than to NOT bankrupt ourselves in the attempt to be God?! It is interesting how devout atheists generally impose their will upon the rest of us just as the priests and missionaries of old. When men stop trying to be God, there will be peace and prosperity on Earth -- but I would not hold my breath...
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    The secret is to be tough on yourself and gentle with others. Most people get it the other way around castigating people who have not made it or are struggling. Be strong, be brave but don't look down your nose at others.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    I believe the quote to be a good one, but the use of the word 'dream' early on gets part of the message lost. Offering a hand or lending a hand is one of the noble things an individual may do. Accepting that hand does not demean the individual either. Having the gov't extend that hand to people trained to seek out that hand is where the problem begins. It quickly becomes vote buying and the nanny state is born. The old debtors' prison was an attempt at dealing with the problem of those in need. The Bible reminds us that the poor will always be with us, even as it reminds us that the duty to others is personal not state oriented. We too easily forget that.
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol, CT     
    Archer, said extremely well, right on the head.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Yeah, right! It's the jobless man's fault that he was born to a world with a few dominant financial monopolies (the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers) and that they engineer the government give trillions of dollars away to racketeering criminal corporate banksters who send all that tax money to be vaulted in Switzerland... http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Am-Tired-Of-America/1638257 That's all the common man's fault. It's the common man's fault there are no jobs, that the politicians were bought by the murderous corporate executives who were lucky enough to be born to egregiously corrupt mega wealthy child molesting families with silver spoons in their mouths. It's the Iraqi babies fault that the US military bombed a few hundred thousand of those children to obliteration. The million civilian genocide of Vietnamese civilians, also their own fault. How ridiculous does this sound, blaming the powerless for the actions of the powerful? Totally ridiculous.
     -- DanielVincentKelleyOnYoutube, Newport Vermont     
    Daniel demonstrates the blame and victim consciousness perfectly. Like Reston he points to the casualties of statist rule as the reason for more statist rule. He takes the typical easy route of parading before us the poor and oppressed -- same thing the ruling class does before implementing more Draconian legislation. Yet he takes NO RESPONSIBILITY himself -- he is not even talking about his own oppression, he plays the knight in shining armor who "knows" while the rest of us dolts are "ridiculous" for striving for individual responsibility and accountability. This is classic victim consciousness, and the pleasure derived from the 'moral high ground' that this perspective facilitates feeds the 'savior's ego sufficiently to blame and walk away proudly. Rather, by taking repsonsibility for the corruption in government, we can better reverse the direction -- because if we are not responsible for our government's actions, then who can change them when they go off the deep end? WE ARE RESPONSIBLE, and until you can say that, you REMAIN part of the problem.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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