Monday, March 16, 2009

Blame, Fault, Excuses, Responsibility and Power

There are three things I have no use for. Blame, fault, and excuses.

What do they have in common?

They are actually all just the same thing. They modify the emotional context of a discussion while justifying not changing anything.

Blame pushes responsibility away from the blamer onto someone else. It let's them feel good about themselves by feeling bad about someone else. But more than anything else, it lets them decide that they do not need to change to fix whatever the problem is, someone else does.

Excuses are just the same thing, without a specific target. An excuse is a way for someone to feel good about themselves after things go wrong, but if they do not take responsibility for their contribution to the situation, how can they learn from it?

Fault, of course, is the bastard child of the two. 'It's his fault' is just blame. 'It's not my fault' is just an excuse. The currently popular 'through no fault of their own' is an odd case of pushing an excuse onto someone else.

In the end, they are all about avoiding responsibility. The thing is, most people never think about the relation between responsibility and power.

They are the exact same thing.

Responsibility and power are not related, they are not even two sides of the same coin. They are the exact same thing. When you avoid responsibility, you avoid power. When you take responsibility, you take power. There is no case where you can be responsible for something if you do not have power over it. There is no case where you can have power over something and not be responsible for it.

What you can do is deny responsibility. 'It's not my fault'. As soon as you deny that your actions, your power, affects your situation, that power is gone. You cannot learn to chose actions to better your situation if you deny that your actions affect your situation.

You can also take responsibility. When you do, suddenly every action you take has consequences that affect your situation. When life does not go as you wish it to, the question becomes 'How do I do better?'. And you will find answers, because the answers exist. And you will learn. How can you not, when failure to learn harms your life, and that is your responsibility?


TAO March 17, 2009 at 2:23 PM  

Now I am a leftist...darn...

Oh, and the THEORY that Responsibilty and Power are the same thing does not apply in Washington..and obviously neither in our financial system.

They changed the rules on us and forgot to let us know.

OpenMindedRepublican March 17, 2009 at 5:04 PM  

Holy Crap! Someone actually read this?

Hi Tao. Not a 'leftist', a 'lefty'. I think leftist actually has a meaning.

And those in Washington are indeed responsible for their actions. Whether or not they will turn out to be accountable? Probably not. After all the talk, (nearly) all politicians are politicians first and Republicans and Democrats second. All the finger-pointing mostly serves to muddy the water so no-one ever has to face the music.

TAO March 17, 2009 at 6:50 PM  

Darn, I want to be a radical (i.e. not easily defined by current standards! :) )

Actually, politicans today have found a way NOT to be reponsible for their actions; no act is based on principles but rather on politics. They can vote against the budget but yet still bring home earmarks that will keep the folks at home satisfied.

Its all soundbites, polls, and focus groups.

TRUTH 101 March 17, 2009 at 7:30 PM  

You seem like a good guy and it pains me being a political hack that you will dislike more of what I post than like.

So you understand me better though, casting blame and finding fault is a proven way to win elections. Welcome to blogworld Dan?

OpenMindedRepublican March 17, 2009 at 8:07 PM  

Tao, as with so many of the differences between our respective camps, I think the disagreement is more about definitions than the underlying reality. You are using responsibility as a synonym for accountability (at least in context). I view it more like... gravity. Denying it cannot change what it is.

Truth... snark, or more generally preaching to the choir is how you get hits. I know you have more to say than the 'political hack', and besides, snark is usually wrapped around a core of truth, and I am willing to search for it.
And it's Jon. I actually was busy setting this up right about the same time you suggested it.

TRUTH 101 March 18, 2009 at 2:32 PM  

I knew it was Jon. It was rude of me to not be sure before calling you Dean. Please forgive me.

Good luck to you Brother.

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