The United States deals with thousands of problems every year — everything from international issues such as the war on terror and global security to domestic issues like illegal immigration and social programs are issues that our Legislature confronts daily. But America's biggest problem today is the lack of personal responsibility. If there is one value that has eroded away in America, it is its belief in this one. America has become a sue-happy society where people are not accountable for their actions. We continually blame everything but ourselves for our problems. This is a disturbing trend for Americans whose nation was originally founded on ideals of rugged individualism. American obesity is a prime example of this lack of personal responsibility. In 2005, the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act was passed by the House but not by the Senate. This bill would have been a step in the right direction, as it would have barred people from filing lawsuits against the fast food industry for reasons related to obesity or the health complications that go along with it. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the San Francisco Chronicle, "The notion that a food seller should be held responsible for an individual's food consumption is absurd." Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way. It has gotten to the point that if fast food restaurants don't chase away their customers, then customers can sue. Never mind that people's unwillingness to exercise plays a major role or the fact that they know fast food is fattening before they eat it. No one is forcing anyone to eat or do anything that would cause obesity. It's your choice and your responsibility to take care of your body and no one else's. Yet people such as Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-Washington, D.C., stated in the Washington Post, "We're talking about a public health problem for which our government has not taken responsibility." And why should they? Uncle Sam is not forcing anyone to eat at McDonald's every day. This is just part of an overall disturbing trend in the United States, and this lack of responsibility and accountability is not limited to American obesity. The same attitude is stretching into all walks of society. The attitude has become: If you steal, it is because of socioeconomic forces. If you become a mother when you're 15, it's because you didn't receive a good enough sex education. If you murder someone, as we witnessed immediately following the Virginia Tech tragedy, it's because of race or easy gun access, violent movies, violent video games or bullies who picked on you too much on the playground. It's never just that person's fault. People now look at wrongdoers as victims of their society. This is true at every level of society, from major felonies all the way down to youth baseball. If Johnny didn't make the team, it's because the coach is on a personal vendetta to squash his baseball career, not because Johnny is simply not good at baseball. If you start smoking cigarettes or doing drugs, it's because of peer pressure and societal forces — nothing you did. When students do poorly in class, it's because they're not the teacher's pet and the teacher hates them, not because they didn't study hard enough or that they're poor students. All that seems to matter today is that people feel good about themselves in the end. There are most likely many reasons why this generation insists on blaming all of its problems on other forces in society, but it seems that it is due, in large part, to a lack of appreciation for our origins. The post-World War II generations have benefited largely from the sacrifices of their predecessors, and thus have always, for the most part, lived in prosperity. These generations have no appreciation for what hardship actually is, so when something goes wrong we have no idea how to handle it other than to blame something else. Why? Because everything has always just been given to us. If you were to ask someone who survived the Great Depression and World War II what a bad day was, you would most likely get a very different answer than if you asked the same question to a college student today. To older generations, a bad day is going to bed hungry, but to a college student today, a bad day is having a cell phone that's not working. We've never truly had to struggle, at least compared to generations past. Thus, we have lost our appreciation for our prosperity, and we must always feel good about ourselves. Therefore, when things go south for us personally, we don't know how to act, and we blame every other factor so we can still feel good. Joe Trovato ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in journalism.