Something goes wrong, and we immediately try to
figure out whom to blame. This happens in our personal lives and our
community life. The public discourse in our society is much more likely
to focus on who is at fault for problems than on what positive things
can be done about them. A tremendous amount of energy is expended every
day on the blame game.
You leave home late and on the road get stuck behind a stalled car. Arriving at your meeting, you blame that vehicle’s driver for your tardiness. You have a report due, but a colleague calls with a question and you postpone your work. When your boss questions why the report isn’t done, you tell her that an interruption threw you off schedule.
Watching the news, we hear public officials sidestep taking responsibility for problems. Instead they blame the messenger—the press—for bad news. After Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina there were calls for commissions to examine what happened. To the extent that these efforts find concrete suggestions for how responses can be improved, this is laudable. But they have to move beyond just naming names.
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