Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Blame Game

I think it's time for a new campaign, with the working title "Praise not blame" - better suggestions welcome. I lie in bed and listen to the news. Have you noticed how much of it is about people blaming others? Sports journalists blame Martin Johnson for England's performance in the Rugby World Cup and his job is on the line. The Home Secretary pins the blame on Brodie Clark, head of the Border Force, for relaxing immigration controls too much in the summer. Michael Jackson's fans and a Californian jury blame his doctor for his death. Devon and Somerset Police are en route to blame Taunton Rugby Club for the terrible M5 crash. Poor care of the elderly is blamed on hard-pressed NHS staff. All of us blame the bankers for the recession. At least, some of us blame the Labour government for their prodigal husbandry of our resources. The present government is lining up the euro-zone as the guilty party in our flat-lining economy. The summer riots were blamed on a "feral underclass". The media seems to be fuelled by blame stories and, of course, it feeds them. I dare to wager that one of the questions every reporter and interviewer will ask whenever something goes wrong is, "And who do you think is responsible for this?" Who's to blame? And of course in hot pursuit comes the lawyer urging legal action.

Daytime TV in particular is peppered with adverts from "accident" lawyers. You know the sort of thing. "There I was at work, carrying a box, when I tripped over a cable on the floor. I bruised my nose and smashed my glasses and was off work for three weeks. Kenge and Carboys were great. They got me £3000 in damages - and it cost me absolutely nothing." "Kenge and Carboys - specialist accident solicitors - guaranteed no cost. If you've had an accident at work, ring freephone number 0800..." Of course it does cost - a lot - and the lawyers on both sides make a lot of money, from the employer, or their insurers (who are also paid by that and other firms), thus increasing the industry's costs. All because some silly person didn't look where they were going. I've heard of people suing councils when they've tripped over uneven paving stones and suing British Rail when they slipped on a wet platform. The fact is accidents do happen. They just do.

"local initiatives" such as this sponsored walk in aid of MND
Instead of looking for someone to blame, shouldn't we be praising? For example, shouldn't we be celebrating that fact that we have a good transport system, that we don't have to walk on roads of mud, that we have local councils who maintain our roads and pavements and take away all our excessive waste? Shouldn't we be praising our amazing free-at-the-point-of-need emergency services, the paramedics who come out 24/7 to pick and patch us up; our 24-hour Accident and Emergency departments who treat even obnoxious binge drinkers? Shouldn't our news channels be filled with items about people like Bill Gates supporting Aids relief with his billions, and local initiatives such as Street Pastors, volunteers who patrol town centres to come alongside and help young (and not so young) pubbers and clubbers rolling out in the early hours greatly the worse for wear? The good thing, I have to confess, about the next couple of weeks is that we are occasionally shown items about projects supported by Children in Need.  Wouldn't it be good if our news focused on such things all year round? There are plenty of good news stories around. 

Manchester - The Mustard Tree at work
Let's cultivate our taste-buds so that we prefer praise to blame. I don't know if "blame" is the same as Jesus meant by "judge", when he told us not to judge. I think it was about having a critical spirit, so there's relevance about what he said next: "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." 

So here's my first item of praiseworthy news in my Praise not Blame campaign! Good news from Manchester. You'd be welcome to send links to other good news stories. I want to break this cycle of negativity which seems so to have captured our national psyche. Life is good! 

Life's goodness shouldn't be news, in the sense that it shouldn't come as a surprise to us. However it appears that it is news at the moment. Let's celebrate it.

And how about this for a novel idea? Instead of us all taking part in the Blame Game, why not let someone who gets something wrong say, "I'm sorry. I made a mistake there. I'll take responsibility"? Like, sadly, to give him his due, Graeme Knowles, the Dean of St Paul's.


  1. Great - sign me up! And if we need a badge - what about something crucifix in shape?

  2. Sadly Martin Johnson has now been sacrificed. What a shame that the RFU is going the way of soccer - sacking (forcing to resign) a manager after one disappointing tournament. For goodness sake, let him build up a squad and give him TIME to do it.