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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who's to blame?

We had the underwear bomber try to attack us in America on Christmas Day. It shouldn't have happened. There were lots of signs now that the picture has been put together. Information was available in bits and pieces, but nothing was clear at the time.

No person or group in our government is taking responsibility for our failures because doing so means career or "reputational" (is that a word?) suicide. So, we blame.

Have you ever seen an obviously guilty person try to blame another so the attention will be moved away from him or her? One might argue that this is what we, as a government, are doing now.

Hold on a minute. This is NOT "government-bashing". This problem of blame seems to be, unfortunately, culturally driven. We have a problem with this culture in America, in the whole world, and in humanity, itself.

It's easier to look at the mistakes others make than to look at the ones we make ourselves. It always has been and, sadly, probably always will be...unless we make a concerted effort to change. We've got to move away from blame and move toward learning. Blame is NOT a tool for learning. Blame only helps people be afraid to stand up and say what didn't go right and what could go better. Blame helps us feel better because, like I said above, when we point the finger at others, we're hoping no one is looking at us.

The healthy and smart thing to do is ask ourselves (and I when I say "ourselves" it can mean the government, it can mean people in business, it can mean charity organizations, and it can mean us, in our personal lives) what role WE had to play in what didn't go right. We all have to stand up and be counted and we shouldn't be allowed to blame anyone else.

I'm happy that our president is pulling all the heads of the intelligence organizations together to try to get to the bottom of our problems fighting terror organizations. Instead of inter-service rivalries, the leaders need to see what role their teams had to play or could have played to ensure our country's safety. These leaders need to get over themselves and think about the people they serve.

I don't really expect much. I'd like to say I'm cautiously optimistic, but that might be a stretch.

OK, so instead of just railing against territorial agencies and their leaders in our government, what can we do to help change the human culture, to change our culture here in the US? We can start by trying to live, work, and play in a NO-BLAME ZONE. When we encounter an outcome that we don't like or we know is bad, we can look inside ourselves and ask what role we had to play. We can ask ourselves what we could have done, directly or indirectly, to keep the bad from happening and to make the good materialize.

It's up to each of us. Yes, it's hard. It's a life's work. It can be done.