What – get rid of blame? That’s like telling a fish that they are getting rid of water. They wuld not understand. They’d say ‘what’s water?’ Blame is so deep in our culture that we would have a hard time sorting this one out.
This article is a conversation where an attempt is made to work out the conundrum and an ordinary dinner party somewhere in the UK.
A bunch of us were having dinner.
“If I had one wish for humanity I would somehow banish ‘blame'” I said . “I think blame is the single most harmful thing to humanity”.
Someone said at once – ‘No – war is the worst’ – and someone else said – ‘surely torture has to be the one thing to ban?’ There were a few of us discussing the matter and the suggestions came thick and fast – from capital punishment to pre-nursery school, from racial prejudice to whaling – not to mention chewing gum.
Regardless of reasons, arguments or debates – blame is at the root of them all. Blame is like the morning mists that can mess with the view and no light shines.
Well I proposed a vague concept that didn’t register – James didn’t even hear. He turned to me and said -“what are you going to ban?”
“Blame” I said.
“Nice Idea” said James – the intellectual among us. “But where would that leave us? – how could we operate a judicial system for a start? – Who’s fault would anything be?” All eyes were upon me and I had no idea where to begin. James took the cue.
“Utter mayhem Ollie” he continued – they wouldn’t be able to give you a parking ticket cos they couldn’t blame you for parking by the roadside could they?” I agreed. mutterings of ‘no bad thing’ was somewhat encouraging. I said,
“What’s the reason we can’t park on our highways anyway ? – if you think about it the original reason was to stop traffic jams – then it turned out to be a way of getting a lot of money into government coffers – there was no looking back after that”.
“So now you are blaming the government for overdoing the parking thing are you not.?”
“No I’m not at all James – if I were Mr Brown I’d be looking for any which way to pull more money in to make up for what appears to be an everlasting drain on resources. It’s a bottomless pit”. Sarah frowned at her soup and muttered quietly,
“Looks like the military are taking the biggest chunk aren’t they?”. James thought for a moment.
“I suppose you could be right – I can’t think of anything else they could tax that hasn’t been taxed already”.
“Exactly – so it has to be fines now which is virtually free money because we already have the courts set-up and all it takes is another new rule for us to break. – bus lanes have been doing well for them lately”.
“Of course they could always export more than they import and actually make some money that way “. said Sarah business woman and and mother of three young ones. Her husband Michael glanced briefly at the ceiling and said
“Sarah could you pass the potatoes – I really think we have to understand a bit more about economics before venturing solutions. Thank goodness I’m not in politics” he said smiling at James.
“Actually she does have a point, taxes are supposed to be a supplement to the trade and industry – that is the country’s trade – to put bread and butter on the table” said Rebecca who was a keen junior in a law firm working towards a partnership. She picked delicately at her salmon and looked thoughtful. She continued after a selection of compliments for the hostess’ excellent cooking.
“On the other hand I can see a huge welter of blame towards the government for not handling affairs very well – I mean look at the mess they have been making lately. I mean if they were a firm hired to run things they would be facing all sorts of law suits.”
“Yes indeed – said Sarah “Did you hear how Camden lost all that public money by putting it into shares instead of actually spending it on benefits for the people?”.
“Hang on” I said – the no-blame ethos dictates we don’t blame their little cotton socks for that either”. Joe had been like a bulldog chewing on wasps for the duration of dinner. he looked rather cross.
“Yeah right!” retorted Joe “How’s that going to work? the idiots get away with everything – and no blame means they can carry on just doing more rubbish just the same – next thing you’ll be suggesting a teleseminar on the subject – or a petition or something.- “Bless their cotton socks – HUH!.”
“Look Joe – are you suggesting the governments and banks DON’T get away with it already? All they have to do is to find someone to take the blame for them and tell ’em “you’re fired” and then they still have loads of money and everybody’s happy. Joe I think what you are doing is talking about the status quo”.
“Same as it ever was” said James – a bit of a historian. Only a few centuries ago you’d bung them in the Tower or hang draw and quarter the poor sacrificial apology – whoever he was.”
“OK said Joe so what happens if you just say nothing – how can that improve things?”
“Hey – Joe the guys you are talking about are the ones we voted in. We are the ones who pay their wages. I suggest we do that so we can blame them instead of anyone pointing a finger at poor innocent old US. – but just look at the price we pay for that lot… half our wages goes to propping up these ineffectual people” .
“Wouldn’t you say that calling our government ineffectual is blaming them for not being effective? and don’t you think that’s a bit of a generalization – I mean my MP is a really committed hard working person and I can’t see how it’s his fault?” ventured Annie who had said little all evening.
It’s just a question of looking at the facts that’s all. FACT he’s taking wages in consideration for what? What has he promised exactly? No that’s a rhetorical question. Just imagine if every MP took their job very seriously and made every effort to deliver their promises or else make sure that the PM delivered his promises. Just imagine if the blame game did not exist then there would be no ‘hot potato to pass down the corridor to someone else’s office”.
“God she’s an idealist” said James – let’s get on with the matter in hand – pudding – look we all make mistakes”.
“Yeah Right” insisted Joe again. So the credit crunch is a mistake and I know three people who have lost their homes -and I’m packing boxes so it’s too dam close to home. But here I am playing the blame game right?
“How on earth can these financial people call themselves experts when time and time again they land us all in the drink just by making mistakes…..not just once or twice but regularly every couple of decades it’s ‘Whoops sorry the poor just lost everything again and guess what – the rich seem to be sweet as a nut.
“They even done diagrams in economic books explaining it’s called a hockey stick.”. Joe poured himself another glass of wine and attacked the cheese board with the enthusiasm of a Frenchman.
“What I want to know is – how come the Brits just take everything lying down?”
“They don’t and never have” said James “One of the few races if you ask me who learned from our past rulers that uprisings and civil wars are worse than taking it lying down… rather lie down in beds than on a prison floor I’d say. Look at where the Russian and French revolutions got THEM. It’s just that the Brits get going when it’s worth it – like the poll tax thing.”
“Yeah right- they just changed the name”. retorted Joe.- “Nobody’s fault right?”
“Right” said James with a smile – “Coffee”?
********************* Jackie Mackay – is engaged on a project to help the homeless in central London. She says “We have to start from here. Take one thing out of our culture and one simple tweak could have a massive effect”. The scene above could be one such start – from somewhere.