I guess the situation with Tony Veitch has got me thinking about why people seem so reluctant to take responsibility for their actions. When you make a mistake, admit it, apologise, do what you can to rectify the situation and then everyone can move on. It seems to have become surprisingly hard to do this recently, every apology seems to be qualified by an excuse which usually is blaming something wider for your actions.
I could say it’s the current government who have been responsible for the cultural change in New Zealand, but I can’t as it’s been growing for a while, although I do feel they have perfected the art and made it more acceptable.
I link this failure for individuals to take responsibility for their actions to Political Correctness.
In the world of PC every action is the result of some external force. Maori can blame white people for all their ills because of the actions of colonists over a hundred years ago. Overweight people can blame multinational food companies for their obesity. Smokers dying of cancer can blame cigarette companies for their horrible afflictions. Just about anyone committing some crime can blame ‘society’ for disadvantaging them in some way which lead them to lose control of themselves. And last night Tony Veitch got to blame working seven days and being a bit stressed for kicking the stuffing out of his girlfriend.
This politically correct nonsense has now gone to such lengths that increasingly people don’t even feel the need to apologise at all. After all, everyone should know by now that it isn’t an individuals fault, it’s some external cause originating from the society we live in. Why apologise or take responsibly for your actions when you no longer have any control of your life?
Now the government doesn’t bother apologising or take responsibility for it’s actions, and I include government departments and public servants in this. Offenders will just go to ground and sit it out usually with the complicit backing of those around them. When they do apologise it’s usually has some weasel words in the apology which it can use later on to claim it wasn’t really apologising for it’s mistakes, but someone else’s (witness the agent orange ‘apology’ to Vietnam veterans) and the apology has been so thoroughly vetted by armies of lawyers that it loses all common language meaning and decents into obscure legalese which results in something that really isn’t an apology but a complex excuse. Why should people take responsibility, no other public servant, elected or otherwise does anymore. Even worse the government has now become a vehicle for this corruption, providing support and finance for the blame business whether it be the Treaty of Waitangi industry or the rapidly expanding social services.
You can lie (sorry, miss-speak), cheat, bully, assault, steal and not only not have to apologise because it really isn’t your fault, you’ll actually have a whole bunch of supportive people behind from public figures, the media and academics ready to justify your actions for some obscure historical or societal reason.
Long gone are the days that saw people who screwed up, admit it, resign with some grace and quietly go about making good. Often these people would do this with some dignity – thus showing respect to their victims – gain the respect although not the sympathy of the public, and people could feel that they appreciated the depth and affect of their mistakes. In Japan public figures who stuff up apologise in a humiliating public display prostrating themselves before the press conference and victims, be good to see a bit of that here.
Now you can expect a lucrative contract with some trashy magazine spilling your guts about how it was alcohol or some other rubbish, with soppy airbrushed photos and simpering excuses from your mates saying what a decent person you really are, and eventually you’re back in the saddle. Not only have you not apologised, you haven’t taken responsibly AND you’ve made a bit of cash along the way.
Political correctness is morally corrupt. People like to blame big business and capitalism for the moral corruption in society (yet another excuse) but in fact it’s the PC movement itself that has visited this moral vacuum upon society.
If we really want to start to improve things in NZ we need to start with ourselves and the morality (not religious morality, but moral fibre and integrity and taking responsibility for your actions) of the people we elect and put up as role models. We should have a zero tolerance for people who display a flexibility with the truth and who always seek to blame some external source for their actions. Only when we as individuals take responsibilities for our actions, admit it when we have made mistakes without recourse to excuses, will we be able to improve society and behave in a fair, decent and respectful way to one another.
Interesting blog article on the two types of appology often used…