A British soldier is hacked to death by an extremist. A reaction, aired on CNN, from a friend simply condemns the British government and its continued involvement in the war in Afghanistan. "All war involves killing, and the government is to blame for the tragedy!" There is no condemnation of the hackers' actions.
So, where does individual responsibility enter into the mix of violence after violence. The government is a big group with many players. It is easy to blame it. It is easy to condemn it. But does it really take away an individual's responsibility for a crime upon another person using the faulty reasoning that because a nation wages war, therefore, it is okay for an angry radical to do violence on an innocent person, off duty, who had previously served his nation.
To take a life is wrong. It may be mitigated by true self-defense. It may be altered by circumstances such as defending the innocent or securing rights for people who are oppressed. Clear vision is usually obliterated when it comes to the action of killing. The welfare of the country, the depravity of the enemy, the suffering masses, uncertain battle lines all help to obfuscate the cause of righteous.
At times, individuals rise up and protest against the government's actions. Men and women declare themselves conscientious objectors and make a statement against actions of war. This stance has been respected by governments. Objectors have made and continue to make their statements by demonstrations, hunger strikes, and other non-lethal actions. They take responsibility for what they do.
That is what should happen. No one should be excused for murder. Murderers should be condemned, not apologized to. Everyone has responsibility for his/her actions. "The government made him do it" does not excuse, but only compounds the violence.
Where does a person learn personal responsibility? I think it is often taught negatively. When you do something wrong, you pay the price. More should be said about paying the price for doing the right thing, not always for the immediate prize, but for a better future. When individuals take responsibility for their actions there will be fewer murders and fewer suicide bombings, and maybe a responsible culture will prevail over whomever or whatever, might be the agents of irresponsibility.