Warning: I am up on my soapbox today, so you’d better read something else if you’re looking for peace and serenity.
Excuses! That’s all we hear today. It’s always somebody else’s fault. Or you can blame the computer – even though the least of us know, in this age of technology, that it’s the human behind the computer that is usually the culprit.
Why is it that no one (okay, almost no one – I don’t want to be accused of blanket generalities) can accept responsibility for their mistakes?! Our nation of strong, responsible men and women has, over the past generation, become a nation of soft, weak, irresponsible people. It is a damned shame!
I have had this complaint for quite a few years, watching as everyone from politicians to athletes to customer service reps to friends fail to take responsibility for their actions. Someone else made me do it. It was an act of God. I couldn’t bear to hurt someone’s feelings. I thought I was doing the right thing.
Excuses! Why can’t people say, “Yes. It was my fault. I made a mistake. I added wrong and that’s why the figures in the report were inaccurate. ” Or, “Yes. It was my fault. I misinterpreted the data. There were no weapons of mass destruction. We went to war due to my mistake.” Or, “Yes. I dropped the ball. It was no one else’s fault we lost the game. I wasn’t concentrating on the game and I missed the catch.”
Excuses are related to another of my big complaints: the inability of people to be honest. Truth and honesty are the dual supports of responsibility. If you can’t tell the truth, it’s unlikely you will be responsible. That is doubly true if you can’t be honest with yourself. Making excuses is often the result of lying to yourself first. Then you lie to everyone else.
Taking responsibility and telling the truth — or not doing so — recently came to my attention yet again in my work. My “work,” for those who haven’t followed my blog, is volunteer work. I am an Area Services Coordinator for a totally volunteer (that’s right – no one in the entire group draws a paycheck for their work) non-profit organization which matches sponsors to residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. It’s a really fancy title but the job is far less glamorous. I call residents to learn about them and their needs. I call sponsors to get to know them. I try to match the sponsor with a family that will relate to them well, since direct contact between the two and developing a relationship between the two is the way this organization operates.
I take the responsibility seriously because the residents have such great needs. I want to give them the best opportunity of developing a good relationship with their sponsor. I expect both parties in the arrangement to live up to their obligations.
Recently, a sponsor I had placed with a family of five (mom and four teen boys) had a financial set-back and needed to stop the sponsorship arrangement. That is perfectly understandable. We ask one thing of sponsors in this position. We ask them to notify us. Very simple, very easy. The sponsor in question did just that. She emailed me to let me know of the problem. I responded, thanking her for letting me know. I told her I understood and asked her if she had informed the mom in the family. I indicated that if she had not, I would do it for her.
So why am I upset? She also notified my supervisor of the situation. Was I upset by that? Nope! She told my supervisor that she had spoken with the mom and informed her of the situation. My supervisor forwarded that information to me. Am I upset yet? No.
I called the mom to see how things were going and to let her know I would keep looking for a new sponsor for her. She was, sadly, at a wake when she took the call. Death and it’s rituals are too common an occurrence on the rez. I told her that I knew her sponsor had already told her and I just wanted to reassure her that I would keep looking for a replacement.
By her reaction, I knew she had not known the sponsor could not continue. And yet, she would not break down. I heard the pain and strength in her voice. She asked about the reasons and could understand, in spite of the loss to her family. It was very painful for me to unwittingly be the one to pull the rug out of this woman’s life. I have not yet found a sponsor willing to take on a family of teens.
Was I upset because I had to be the bearer of bad tidings? No. I was upset because the sponsor LIED to us. She did not take responsibility for her actions. She took the easy way out. She told us by email but did not tell the person she had accepted the responsibility to help.
I do not know how or when or where this trend began. I am not a pundit or scholar. I am just a simple human being who is sick to death of people making excuses.
So if you are dealing with me, remember the ground rules:
Tell the truth.
Take responsibility for your actions.
In return, I will promise to do the same and to respect our differences. I will not judge you for any mistakes. I will work with you to make things better.
However, remember that if you choose to break those two simple rules, I will call you out on it – perhaps publicly. Whatever my response, be assured, it won’t be pretty!!