Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday's Words for January 12, 2010

There is a difference between responsibility and blame. I’m not really sure how it’s happened, but it seems to me that we, who live here in North America, have confused the two to such an extent, I really am worried that we’ll never completely separate them again.

I’m afraid we’ll never get it right.

My beloved has just recently completed his annual ‘safety training’ at work. Each year, in the first week or so of January, his employer presents a program designed to keep everyone aware of the latest safety procedures, to review old information, and to ensure that everyone realizes that the company takes the safety of its workers seriously.

All good.

My husband told me that according to one of the government agencies, “there is no such thing as an accident”. Period. If someone gets hurt at work, then someone, somewhere, somehow is to blame.

In these enlightened times in this province, if a worker is injured on the job, then not only can the company that employs him be charged, and subsequently fined, its principals jailed; so, too, can the worker’s supervisors and even the worker himself.

I can see problems with this stance. Personally, you wouldn’t be able to pay me enough money, under those conditions, to take a supervisory job. And I would guess that, most probably, the best and the brightest employees wouldn’t, either. Fines levied in workplace injury suits can be devastating for an individual to pay, because the employer is prevented, by law, from paying the fines on a supervisor’s behalf.

I really miss common sense. You know, that old thing we used to rely on? That thing that told us to do our best, try our best, and when mistakes happened, as mistakes were wont to do, to learn from them, and do better next time.

Under the above concept, you can change that thinking to read when mistakes happen, lose everything you own and go into bankruptcy and/or jail.

Nope, I don’t ever want to be a supervisor.

We are, as a society, very quick to blame anyone and everyone when tragedy strikes. When that tragedy is as a result of violence perpetrated by one individual upon another—or upon several others, we—represented by our news media and others who would step forward with fingers pointing—are quick to lay the blame for these crimes at countless pairs of feet.

Responsibility and blame. How to know the difference?

My heart goes out to the families and friends of the people murdered in Tucson last weekend. I especially feel great grief for the family of Christina Taylor Green. The murder of the young and innocent seems to me to be the most heinous of crimes. I also pray for the recovery of the injured.

Who do we blame for this tragedy? The man whose finger was on the trigger.
Do we look further? Certainly not in any criminal sense, in my opinion—unless he had a verifiable accomplice. I’ve been hearing “talking heads” from both ends of the political spectrum either casting blame or denying responsibility, at (metaphorically speaking) the tops of their lungs. I’ve a news flash for them. This isn’t about them, or their constant demonizing of each other, or their political agendas.

This is about a man who coldly and, apparently premeditatedly, committed mass murder. It’s about the lives taken, and the people injured.

I would, however, like to share one very personal opinion, if I may. It has always been my belief that when you step forward and would assume a role of leadership—be it in education, religion, law enforcement, business, or politics—that you are obliged to hold yourself to a higher standard; to remember that the examples you set, whether you want them to or not, inspire others—for good, and yes, sometimes, for evil.

This is a lesson we should have learned in 1170 when Henry II expressed his frustration by uttering, “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?" Words misinterpreted by the king’s devout followers as an order to assassinate the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket.
I don’t hold out much hope we’re going to learn this lesson anytime soon.

JANUARY 14 2010

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