Saturday, 2 October 2010

Whose fault is it?


Well it’s the most important question, isn’t it? All those things happen – from the deepest tragedy to head-in-hands farce – and we are concerned with fault. Nothing can occur without some call for enquiry, investigation, exposure and – in the end – blame. Whose fault is it? Who is responsible? Which head should we impale on a pole?

We pick up the papers, turn on the radio, watch the telly – and what do we get? A shallow, accusatory, offensive culture of finger-pointing. We are not interested in what should be done to put things right – if that can be done. We care not one jot for the sensitivities of those suffering. We just want to see someone nailed to the door with a notice of blame and responsibility.

After many years of watching Newsnight almost religiously I realised that the character of the programme reflected a rotten, stinking and unpleasant truth about us all. We were enjoying watching a cynical journalist asking “when did you stop beating your wife” questions of politicians, pundits and other scum who crossed his path. We were not presented with an exploration of the truth but with an exercise in tripwires and elephant traps – an interview the sole purpose of which was to catch out the interviewee and make the interviewer look clever.

I don’t watch Newsnight any more.

I stopped reading newspapers when I realised – from bitter personal experience – that almost nothing contained therein was accurate, well-researched or informing. The journalist takes just one interest in what we have to say – the single line, the accusation, the plea, the blaming of others. That is the story – whether it be tragedy or low politics, show business or the life of a child. Today news reporting – just like our politics – is a sub-branch of the entertainment business. And what we really like is to see someone else squirm – to point our accusatory finger and say ‘there’s the person to blame.”

I turned to the on-line world – to the cornucopia of wonders that is the Internet. Perhaps there we will find something of what was lost. But not surprisingly that world is also filled with the casting of aspersions, with bullying, with the idle accusation easily made and above all with the laying of blame. Each day I read the same stuff – pointing fingers at one or other person for their supposed blameworthiness, endless calls for enquiry, for legal action and for people’s lives to be destroyed. All on a whim and at the touch of a button.

In all this sport – this festival of personal attack and accusation – we have lost sight of some of the really important things. If I lose my job, I can thrash around looking for someone else to blame for my predicament – the boss, the management, the economy, the Government. It’s a natural response – quite understandable in its way – but of no value to me or my family. My concern should be with what I do tomorrow not with why yesterday went wrong. Let’s suppose I can find someone to blame – where does that get me? I still have no job.

Don’t get me wrong I do care about responsibility. I think we should admit to our mistakes. And, on occasion, it is proper that those mistakes are punished. But let’s get a little balance? Let’s also give our attention to being accurate. To being understanding. And above all let’s give people space to explain, to tell their story.


1 comment:

The Grim Reaper said...

I'll agree with that.