Pointing fingers vs. ensuring accountability

Pointing fingers vs. ensuring accountability

in Editorials by
Pointing fingers vs. ensuring accountability

Back in mid-March, if you didn’t have strong opinions about what the decision-makers were doing, you were in the minority.

Closing schools after March break was either ridiculous or not stringent enough. The NBA overreacted by shutting down so fast, and the federal government under-reacted by not shutting the border fast enough.

Author Karen Armstrong writes that our opinions these days tend to be characterized by “aggressive certainty.”

And, as we’ve seen, aggressive certainty quickly leads to blame, whether it’s aimed at people in a park or at our leaders at all levels of government.

That’s a lot of negative energy flying around our community, especially since dirty looks don’t actually change anything.

As CBC Radio’s Michael Enright lamented in another context, we’ve become a nation of hall monitors, bent on pointing out the misdeeds of others rather than focusing on the only behaviour we can change which is, of course, our own.

Similarly, when it comes to public life, we need to differentiate between unhelpful and unproductive finger-pointing, and democratic demands for accountability.

Blaming those in authority for missteps is unfair. Establishing what went wrong, on the other hand, is essential to helping us prepare for future health crises.

We’re all learning as we go, doing our best with the information we have, but that doesn’t mean that city hall, the health unit, school boards, the conservation authority or other public agencies are exempt from legitimate criticism.

It’s just common sense to require various levels of government to account for mixed messages so we can do better in the future.

A strong community is built on a foundation of respect and compassion for all.

It starts with each of us taking responsibility for our own actions and looking out for the safety of others, and insisting that those in charge do likewise.

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