‘NO WAY! I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE! IT’S HIM, HER, THEM, THOSE, THAT OR IT!’ The thought in many Australian minds – 2023


The early version of this article was challenging to write in 2006 – I was 67.

It’s even more difficult to revisit and rewrite in 2023 – I’m 82.

This piece compares those two periods and confronts how we fail ourselves, each other, family, friends, neighbours, our country, and the planet by ‘buck-passing’ our responsibilities.

A reviewer recently said it was harsh, unkind and depressing.

It’s written as a catalyst for a mind that has yet to see into The Realm of Possibility. Or a mind that has forgotten what it saw: our personal responsibility for serving the common good.

As you read on, hold this thought: each person is born innocent. We learn what becomes our shortcomings. Among them: ‘passing the buck’.


Most, it would seem, at least in the developed world, are conditioned from birth to avoid taking responsibility for how we think, feel and act. We learn, quite innocently, to ‘duck shove responsibility’.

Fortunately, when our irresponsible actions occur, they – like everything – are in the past – a fragment of our conditioned mind.

And it is possible to see beyond our conditioned mind into the Realm of Possibility and get a fresh start.

It is in that Realm we see our responsibilities and embrace them in our daily life.

There, we become free to be our authentic selves – kind, understanding, and connected to our innate wisdom and common sense.

In that state of mind, or being influenced by it, we are ‘responsible’.

Fleshed out below is:

  • How we become irresponsible and, from that state, negatively impact our lives, relationships and the world.
  • How we transcend that conditioning, become responsible and be in service to humanity, other sentient beings and the natural world.


Shifting responsibility onto others or our circumstances for our upset, anger, mess, mistakes, and misadventures … for life unfolding in ways that don’t suit us, seems universal.

Lost in our conditioning, many live as if the world revolves around us. Living as if life owed us and should deliver what we want and desire.

And then blaming him, her, them, those, that, or it for how we feel when not getting what we want or, worse, feel entitled to!

In that state, we hold, among many external factors, the weather, the government, the economy, our suppliers, financiers, and interest rates responsible for the difficulties we may experience.

One of the favourites for business owners who fail to make appropriate plans and financial fallback provisions: market conditions are to blame. We don’t see it as our lack of foresight.

For many, our blaming is indiscriminate, just so long as our awful actions, critical words or pear-shaped endeavours are the faults of someone or something else.

He, she, them, those, that, or it caused us, or our difficulties, to be how we or our circumstances are – or made us do what we did – but only if the result is poor.

Odd that – success we claim as ours!

And the granddaddy of all buck-passing; our parents for those fortunate enough to have or have had them in their life. They are ultimately responsible.

We hold them or one of them as the genesis of what went wrong with us and our life – and being responsible for who or how we are – but only for the messes we make.


What changed?

What caused me to see where the buck stopped?


  • My experience – good, bad or indifferent – as life unfolds in each shifting moment was my creation,
  • what I saw as reality determined my experience of what was developing in my life – the ever-changing circumstances,
  • how I saw all those circumstances as good, bad or indifferent, along with much more colourful names, was of my creation and entirely independent of the events unfolding,
  • nobody else was responsible for my experience of whatever came to pass – ever,
  • no circumstance was responsible for how I experienced that circumstance,
  • how I thought about, felt about, and behaved concerning the events – naming them good, bad or indifferent – was my responsibility: 100%.

What caused me to wake up to the fact I alone am the:

  • author,
  • producer,
  • director,
  • cameraman,
  • audio man
  • actor, creating the drama called my life.

As is yours, my mind is the source of my reality – my experience.

What shifted within my consciousness, allowing me to see that I created my life as an inside-out experience, not the outside-in-created reality I had always imagined it to be?


It was October 1992.

The setting was picturesque Tiburon, across the bay from San Francisco. I was attending a three-day seminar on what I now call Possibility and impossibility.

On day two, although having heard and read about the same concepts in different ways before, this time, it was a revelation: What I think in each moving moment is my uniquely personal reality – the only ‘reality’ I will ever know in each shifting moment.

The secret to living a peaceful and productive life became alive in my mind:

  • Nothing exists for me except through the power of Thought: the source of my thinking, feelings and behaviour.
  • Thinking that is either healthy or unhealthy. Thinking that works for or against me – thinking that works for or against the common good.
  • Thinking is more than my brain at work. Thinking is the continuous expression of the Life energy called Thought (with a capital T to distinguish it from one of its products – our ‘personal’ thinking).
  • There is nothing but Thought! Our feelings, emotions, actions and behaviour result from whatever we think from moment to moment.
  • Thought is the energy with which we think, create and navigate our way through life 24/7 – which, when absent, we are pronounced dead.

Are you wondering where this is leading? What is the point?


The following discoveries lit up my mind, as they may have in yours, may do now or in the future.

Beyond our conditioning – yours and mine – before the creation of our beliefs, opinions, judgements and knowledge – exists the Realm of Original Thought: The Realm of Possibility.

Seeing into that Realm frees us from our prison of victimhood – our belief that others and our circumstances cause us to think, feel and act the way we do.

Passing the buck is no longer part of our everyday experience unless we forget the context of our life: I think my reality, my view of the world, my experience – good, bad or indifferent – into being in each shifting moment.

I realised:

  • The external world is not imposing my experience on me, no matter how it looks and feels to the contrary,
  • that we, you, me, all humanity, are the creators of our separate reality (our experience of life and the world) within our minds around whatever is unfolding in our lives,
  • our reality is exclusive to us,
  • that the same holds for each member of humanity,
  • we each live in our unique, separate reality and
  • if the previous five statements were not 100% correct, we would all experience reality in precisely the same way.
  • No two people see reality – think, feel and act – the same.


Once awake, I saw how:

  • Passing the buck was common in others,
  • pervasive blaming them, those, that or it, is in our culture – and as a global traveller, across the world,
  • we learn to attribute responsibility for how we think, feel and behave to others and our circumstances,
  • we learn to pass the buck from our many teachers and, in doing so, how we damage or destroy our relationships, health, environment and economy,
  • shifting responsibility destroys our relationship with God (or, from my reality as an agnostic, with Life).

You, like me, may have grown up unaware that an ‘awake’ human being takes 100% responsibility and is accountable for their thinking, feelings and actions. Yes, 100%!

And we can re-discover our psychological and spiritual freedom by waking up in the Realm of Possibility.

We see at that moment that our entire life experience is as it has been, is right now and will be in the future of our creation.

Our personal experience of him, her, them, those, that, or it has been and is, right now, our creation – 100%.

Notwithstanding what may have happened to us at the hands of another or of life unfolding in whatever way it does, we are the creator of our moment-to-moment experience within our minds.

No matter how diabolical, sinister, hurtful or painful our experiences may have been, it is not those circumstances, that person or those people at cause.

It is how we individually think, feel and act – how we create – via Thought – our thinking, feelings and behaviour towards them, those, that or what occurred.


We are ‘taught’ to avoid self-responsibility as a child through the conditioning of our minds.

Nowhere is it more evident and invisible to us than within our relationships growing up.

In childhood, the ‘die is cast’ in becoming responsible or irresponsible.

Fortunately, that can change. We can see into The Realm of Possibility and wake up.

From the beginning, we adopt from our parents, significant others, and the world surrounding us what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste.

What we see, hear, feel, smell, or taste becomes how we experience the world – our grounding beliefs, opinions, judgements and knowledge. The conditioning that works for or against us and for or against the common good to whatever degree it does.

Those early days condition us on how we live our lives. We become lost in that accumulation, believing it to be ‘the truth’.

Indelibly imprinted lessons, modelled daily from our life teachers (some useful and some not), become our memories – conscious and subconscious – that invisibly ‘steer’ us through life.

And it’s difficult to change from routinely shifting the burden of responsibility to others, to seeing and assuming responsibility for our thinking, feelings and actions in living a responsive and responsible life.


Below are a sample of the lessons, among countless others, you may have learnt in passing the buck for how you think, feel and act:

  • ‘You make me feel so angry.’ Or variations: ‘so sad’, ‘so happy’, ‘so upset, ‘so this, that or the other’.

Because parents tell us, or we hear those words used by others, we come to believe that we are at cause in creating the experience of the other. And it follows that we learn to think what others say or do is the source of how we feel and act.

  • Mother chastising her child: ‘Daddy will be furious when he finds out.’ Or: ‘Wait till Daddy gets home and finds out what a bad boy you have been.’

The mother unwittingly passes the buck to the father rather than being accountable for instilling discipline herself. And the child naturally comes to think that his behaviour makes Daddy furious.

  • Shifting of responsibility (in various forms) shows up later in life, particularly in organisations.

For example, a supervisor will hide behind their manager’s authority rather than take responsibility for an outcome they are responsible for achieving within their jurisdiction. They may say something like: ‘The boss was very upset by what you …’ or, ‘The directors want you to …’ or, ‘The CEO has changed his mind and wants you to get Bob, Dick or Harry to ….’

Shifting responsibility up the line for executing our delegated responsibilities is weak leadership and models weak leadership.

  • Not wanting to speak with someone at the door – maybe a debt collector – a father foists responsibility onto his child: ‘Tell the man Daddy is not home.’ Here, we have a double whammy … passing responsibility to the child to deal with the caller and teaching the child to lie.

This lesson shows up in all sorts of avoidance in later life. Many of us habitually get others to do our ‘dirty work’ rather than face it ourselves. It also manifests in the so-called ‘white lies’ we live so comfortably with – telling a lie rather than meeting our responsibilities in facing whatever backlash may result.

  • When confronted over some misdemeanour, kids often say that ‘he, she or they made me do it’.

Many parents, grandparents, and friends buy into this profoundly influential piece of buck-passing. The rationale is that children are not mature enough to be responsible for their actions.

After years of collusion, you might hear this: ‘Johnny was such a good boy. It’s a pity he fell in with the wrong crowd. Look how they have led him astray.’

Many parents find it hard to free their children to take responsibility for their actions. Instead, they join with their offspring in the buck-passing.

That thinking is so prevalent in Western Society that a myth of global proportions has developed around the notion that ‘peer pressure’ is the cause of illegal or violent behaviour! No so.

Many psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, social workers, and many, if not all, well-intentioned individuals perpetuate this myth, aided and abetted by the media.

Rather than demonstrating and coaching our kids in responsibility, we create a protective ‘nanny culture’ around them.

We fail our children when we don’t hold them accountable for their behaviour.

We build a ‘nanny culture’ by supporting government prohibitions rather than educating our children to be decerning and responsible.

And, understandably, the majority grow up not taking responsibility: It is ‘the blind leading the blind’ generation … after generation … after generation … perpetuating the same conditioning …

Early, unchallenged experiences of buck-passing are the primary cause of our inability to accept that the buck ends with us.

What follows are four global examples to demonstrate the results of buck-passing and the damage it causes worldwide.


Many express the idea: ‘The Universe will provide.’ The theme is: ‘Have faith, relax, and wait until the Universe delivers what I need or want’ (no need for me to take responsibility, strive and work hard).

Another: ‘If it is meant to be, it will work out; if it isn’t, it wasn’t meant to be.’

Again, with this mindset, I am a victim who thinks that a divine entity is pulling the strings that determine what will and won’t work out for me. That philosophy is at odds with taking personal responsibility.

This one, less new age and more traditional: ‘I will pray to God for what I want’ – health, wealth, love, employment, a spouse, a promotion, a car, a home, a cure, or what I get for Christmas. All our desires are available on direct request.

Here, we pass the buck to an imagined all-encompassing God to be the provider rather than taking the necessary action to earn, seek out, and work for what we want or need.

Indeed, billions hold the idea that God is an almighty entity calling the shots over our lives, the lives of others and the state of the world.

‘Leave it to God. I’m not responsible for the state of the world.’

Is this thinking an abdication of responsibility for our state of health, general welfare, circumstance, others and the environment?

Do we see accountability as being external to us, with ultimate responsibility in the hands of God, the Universe or fate – “que sera sera – whatever will be will be”.


Passing the buck for our health has become so commonplace that it looks like the norm!

Irresponsibility for our health is a large and growing part of our culture.

We smoke (now vape), use drugs, consume alcohol and sugar-laden drinks, eat denatured food and fail to exercise.

Some of us – maybe to salve our conscience – take make-believe health drinks: chemicalised fruit and veggie juices and a mind-boggling array of other containerised anti-health drinks.


  • eat make-believe health foods made with devitalised ingredients,
  • exist on food with the nutrition and nourishment cooked or processed to near extinction,
  • grow increasingly inactive, fat and unhealthy, or emaciated and sickly,
  • line up in the hundreds of thousands each day across the nation at medical practices,
  • take pharmaceuticals to fix our self-induced failing health, joining the club of lifetime users.

Disillusioned at modern medicine’s limitations and inability to stem our nation’s declining health, others turn to the naturopath or homeopath, hoping that extracts of this or that tree, bark, root, fruit, shrub, vegetable or herb will do the trick.

Or on both sides of the health divide, this vitamin, mineral, enzyme, pro-biotic, antioxidant, protein supplement or the latest medical discovery will remedy what Mother Nature provides when we eat healthily, modestly and exercise regularly.

Few consider bypassing the dead-food dealers, medicos et al. and going directly to the primary health provider: Mother Nature.

Most of us refuse to take the natural road that leads to vibrant, sustainable health.

Instead, we live on a devitalised diet, don’t get enough sleep, and live in an exercise-free zone.

Growing millions – from babies to old timers – have severe, debilitating diseases.

Hundreds of thousands are hospitalised, and more of our aged are living a wretched, drug-extended but physically and mentally infirmed old age, with increasing numbers in soul-destroying care.

From cradle to grave, we pass the burden of responsibility to an expanding legion of – dare I say it – make-believe health providers (mainstream or alternative) to fix the symptoms of an unhealthy lifestyle rather than eating, drinking, exercising, and living naturally.

Might becoming responsible for living simply and in harmony with nature be the answer to what ails us physically, mentally and spiritually?


Having just read how we shift the burden of responsibility for our health, let’s look briefly at how we do the same thing with the well-being of our common home: the planet.

We are:

  • polluting the air,
  • degrading the arable soils,
  • acidifying, warming, contaminating and scraping the life from our ocean’s floors,
  • heating the atmosphere,
  • killing the lungs of our planet: the old-growth forests and jungles.
  • And embracing the potential destruction of our food chain by genetically modifying or contaminating it with pesticides, fungicides and other poisonous treatments.

Having listened carefully to the debate on each preceding point from my 20s onwards, I do not sit on the fence and absolve myself of the responsibility to speak out and live differently.

We are destroying our environment – and with it, the animal kingdom – in which we are the destructive species.


Rather than using our CO2 emissions and global warming, with which you will be aware and either agree or disagree, I’ll use our misuse of water as the example of our collective environmental irresponsibility.

Here in Australia, our diminishing rainfalls and increasing need for water are of mounting concern.

Since first colonised 235 years ago, Australians have wasted, poisoned, salted up, and in other ways, irresponsible in our relationship with this most precious resource.

In my hometown, Perth, we consume per head of population 106,000 litres per annum (the latest available figure for the fiscal year 2019/2020).

We argue over how to deal with water.

We ask, ‘Is it best to use desalination, build more dams, pipe it, dig canals or ship it some 2000 kilometres from our north, or continue to deplete our ancient and finite aquifers further?’

But how many of us ask: ‘How can I conserve what we have – what I use?’

As with our health, most cures to environmental problems address the symptoms, not the cause: our chronically irresponsible use and abuse of our life-sustaining resources – the air we breathe, the rivers, oceans, soils, forests, jungles, other sentient beings and our fellow humans.

Too many solutions pass the buck. Only one doesn’t: I accept responsibility for my life – the environment – the world – and the relationships I create!

Back to the point: We waste water everywhere we use it – in agriculture, industry, mining, at all levels of government, and in our homes, gardens and swimming pools, and we let it run out to sea from our roofs and roads.

At this moment, we still don’t have an actual water shortage! We have a massive waste of water on one hand and a lack of conservation on the other.

Rather than take personal responsibility for educating ourselves and stopping the waste, we (individually and collectively) shift responsibility to our elected government to solve the problem.

Our government then shifts it back to the taxpayer – us – to pay for what are unsustainable solutions.

On this merry-go-round, arm in arm with our government, we form a pact that ultimately shifts the problem onto the environment in one way or another.

We salt up our local sea, destroying the sea grasses and banishing the fish while using massive amounts of CO2-emitting energy to run desalination plants – all the while pumping more and more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere in our mindless contribution to exacerbating global warming (the deadliest environmental threat to life on our planet).

We continue to drain ancient aquifers that take thousands of years to refill, or still talk of constructing that canal from thousands of kilometres north to the south.

Few of us see to the heart of the problem: our lack of careful and prudent use of this most precious resource and pricing it in accordance with its economic and environmental cost. Many live with the idea that it is ‘our right’ to use water however we want.

Most of us habitually look outside ourselves for the causes and solutions to our problems.

Incongruous as it sounds, irrespective of global warming or its cause, we in Australia ignore the fact that we live on the planet’s driest inhabited continent!

We need to understand and respect that and respond to that reality.

We must stop treating symptoms (our need to please ourselves about how we use water) and address the cause: our lack of adequate conservation.

As with all problems, sustainable solutions are available. There are people who know exactly what needs changing within agriculture, industry, mining, government, and our homes and gardens to conserve this most precious resource.

We need to listen to them and act on what they tell us to do.

The buck must stop with you and me at work, leisure, or home for wasting water and the other ways we are destroying our planet.

Will we, as custodians of our environment, embrace responsibility before it is too late?

Would Seeing we are 100% responsible for our personal contribution to the problems or solutions be the catalyst for our future actions?


In 2006, the Australian Federal Government had a debt of AUD 47 billion (ABS). The Federal Government anticipated a budget surplus of AUD 10+ billion (AOFM).

The federal government was reducing debt.

A fiscal victory seemed within reach.

However, this was not to be!

Due to irresponsible practices by many banks, The Global Finance Crisis hit.

Adopting a short-term fix with longer-term adverse consequences, and with the support of the opposition, the government committed much of that surplus by handing out a big chunk to those who would spend it quickly and stimulate the economy.

The government was sowing the seeds for what followed.

Our prime minister was pledging taxpayers’ dollars to prop up specific Australians – those finding the going tough because of the GFC.

Or was it because some, many, or most lacked prudence by failing to take responsibility for how they operated their financial lives, households and businesses leading up to that event?


  • Did they have ‘set aside for that rainy day’?
  • Were their debt-to-assets ratios prudent?
  • How sound were their plans for a sudden downturn in the economy?
  • Did they have plans for such eventualities?

On a global scale, politicians of all persuasions were and had been for decades, to varying degrees, shifting the burden of responsibility for their poor financial management by increasing their country’s sovereign debt (debt owed by the nation’s taxpayers).

Individuals, households, businesses, and companies were just as guilty of increasing their debt levels as the facts below will attest.

Governments continue to pass the responsibility on to taxpayers by increasing debt levels – and, as is inevitable, onto future generations to repay.

And political parties, economic commentators, the media, and international economic agencies have rationalised and justified this downward financial spiral, blaming the GFC and, more recently, COVID.

Buck-passing at its best.

In unison, these centres of power and influence continue to do so, further exacerbating our economic responsibility-free world.

The most compelling evidence of Australia’s financial mismanagement is that our government forecasts sovereign debt to exceed $1 trillion next fiscal year (2024/25).

In thirteen years, our government has gone from having us, you and me, and future generations, in debt for 37 billion dollars (considering the 10 billion in surplus) in 2006 to being indebted by more than $1 trillion next fiscal year.

WOW! How is that for financial irresponsibility?

If our economies – federal, state and local governments, businesses, families and individuals – were soundly based and wisely managed, would so many, back in 2006, have faced financial difficulties?

Would so many face the same or worse situation in 2023 and beyond?


Did Australia’s state and federal governments, banks, mortgage brokers, builders, sales representatives or individual home buyers take their share of responsibility for:

  • Building homes that were beyond the financial means of the buyers,
  • being a party to the sometimes-bogus deposits,
  • giving the imprudent loans to shoehorn many first-home buyers into the homes they couldn’t afford if faced with increasing interest rates,
  • the inevitable defaults by not planning for sickness, loss of employment, divorce, an unexpected baby or any other difficulties that arise along the way?

Is not the time right to let the responsibility for poor economic governance stay where it belongs – with those involved?


And it’s us – you and I – that want more taxes spent on this, that and the other and for tax reductions, breaks given to us, them and those.

Is now the time to return to fundamentals, such as ensuring that incomes at all levels of society – especially our governments – exceed expenditure with a good margin for the unexpected?

What if any surpluses created were saved and invested in interest-bearing deposits, quality shares or some other form of sound investment?

What if we were to stop spending in an unsustainable way – in our out-of-control, market-driven, credit-fuelled, consumption-addicted way?

What if we stopped wasting our money on new, more, better – or on a different this, that, the other or latest model whatever?


Do the following facts indicate, as a nation, we are heading towards, or as many think, already in, an economic hellhole?

  • Population 2006 20.4 million – 2021 25.7 million (estimated ABS)
  • Total household debt 2006 AUD 879 billion – 2021 AUS 3.8 trillion (RBA)
  • Average household debt 2006 AUD 116,200 – 2021 AUD 172.500 (AFOM)
  • Total Fed Gov Debt 2006 AUD 42.7 billion – 2021 AUD 872 billion (AOFM). With total Fed Gov Debt for the 23/24 fiscal year estimated to exceed AUD 1 trillion (AOFM)
  • Total foreign debt by all Australians 2006 AUD 506 billion – 2021 AUD 1.2 trillion (ABS)
  • 2006 Total Health expenditure by Fed and States AUD 94.6 billion – 2020 AUD 202.9 billion
  • 2013/14 The first full-year expenditure by the new National Disability Insurance Scheme was AUD 238 million – 2020/21 AUD 21.3 billion.

What if the current round of interest rate increases, implemented to stop inflation, leads to thousands of mortgage defaults?

And as inflation destroys the most vulnerable in our society, what is the alternative?


Will there be clamouring for the government to bail out people who have overreached on their borrowings?

Are those that shoehorned them into their homes, knowing full well that the risks were too great, also responsible?

Will future generations be able to:

  • Repay the ever-increasing government debt,
  • Shoulder the interest on the ever-increasing government debt,
  • Meet Australia’s obligations because of our irresponsible economic actions?

Can we continue to shift the burden of responsibility to more and more government–taxpayer – debt?

What would Australia’s bankruptcy look like to you?

To avoid the economic mess the USA (the bastion of capitalism) is in, we must become accountable and responsible and start living within our means as individuals, families, small businesses, large corporations, local and state governments and as a nation.

Or become like the USA, which has been in what the media describe as ‘panic talks’ to raise its debt ceiling to US $31.4 trillion.

Unless they do, they will default on their debt by June 5th. It’s a foregone conclusion that they will. You will know by the time you receive this article.

Before it’s too late for us as individuals, families, small businesses, large corporations, and the states and federal government, let’s grasp this opportunity and take responsibility to:

  • get off the borrow,
  • spend,
  • borrow more
  • and more,
  • spend more
  • and more,
  • debt powered treadmill
  • and put our fiscal houses in sustainable order.

However painful that might be, it will be a sniffle compared to the pneumonia we face if we don’t act now.

It’s your and my responsibility to be prudent and live within our means.

Buck-passing stops with each of us taking responsibility.


I’ve put to you the relationship many of us have with what we call God, our health, our environment, and our financial health.

I trust that my grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and yours will live in a country where responsibility for one’s life – spiritual, physical, environmental and financial – will be the norm.

If that comes to pass, we will see people who have moved beyond the mental prison of their conditioned minds and have seen Possibility and embraced self-responsibility.

We will see psychologically independent, interdependent, loving, physically robust and fearless custodians of our planet.

For that to materialise, we must see that the buck ends with each of us – no more shifting the burden of responsibility.

It is axiomatic that those that see into the Realm of Possibility, and experience a kind, understanding relationship with themselves, others and the world at large will see with wisdom and common sense.

And yes, even within a chaotic world, a responsible, sustainable life is available for those who access their inner world of Possibility.

We find a way to help ourselves and, in that process, help others, other sentient creatures and our home – Planet Earth.

That Realm of Possibility exists within you and me.

Seeing into that Realm is up to you and me.

It’s our responsibility to do so.

Warmly … John