Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why Do We Need To Blame Someone?

Orson Scott Card, a fantastic science-fiction author (Ender's Game is one of the best ever written IMHO) as well as a vocal writer on many topics, including religion and politics, has written a blunt and unapologetic piece on what he believes to be the media's shortcomings in investigating and exposing the Democratic Party's role in the current economic crisis in America.

You can read the full article here:

In the article, Card blames a left-leaning media for wanting to elect Obama so badly that it ignores a glaring malfeasance in the Democratic leadership, dating back to the Clinton administration. Card says that the Democrats encouraged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to give out bad loans to people who would be less than likely to pay them back. He also says they did this in opposition to Republicans in Congress and the Executive branch.

He calls out for journalists to step up the way they did in "All the Presidents Men" and dig for the truth.

The truth is a good thing. Card didn't say that, I did. But I think Card would agree with me on that point.

The issue I have with his article is not in its facts (or not facts, I honestly don't know how well he researched it), but with its suppositions and it's deeper meaning.

Spend any time on a hard left blog or a hard right blog and 99% of what you'll read there are articles attacking the opposition. Left leaning blogs take every opportunity to attack everything from Sarah Palin's wardrobe to John McCain's 'erratic behavior'. Right wing blogs can't stop talking about Bill Ayers and ACORN.

What neither side talks about are it's own candidates. Left wingers seem to have no interest in ACORN or Ayers. Right wingers don't seem to take notice of McCain's or Palin's shortcomings.

Therein lies the core of the issue I take with Card's editorial. It takes responsibility out of the picture and instead relies on finger pointing. Everything has become a blame game. This whole country seems to be in an enormous game of chasing its own tail, fervently dedicated to finally figuring out Who Is To Blame. If we can catch this person, this One, and then...I don't know.. Blame him to death, all will be better.

This phenomena is not limited to larger organizations like the Democrats or the 'Media', either. By the way, just to clarify, there's no such thing as the 'media'. It doesn't exist. It has no address, no power structure, no rules, no Christmas parties. There are just people, with jobs, and homes, and bosses, and employees. They each have morals, values, secrets, regrets and ambitions.

The 'police' don't violate your civil rights. A policeman does. He has a name. Every time we generalize that way, we dehumanize and devalue all of the good cops out there who work hard every day to keep us safe.

In the same way, saying the 'media' needs to stand up, isn't just ineffectual, it's not really possible. If Mr. Card would like to point at a specific person and say 'You, why don't go investigate this?', that might be a more realisitic approach. But wailing about 'the media' doesn't just devalue individuals, it also reflects badly on Mr. Card.

Why? Because the moment we start pointing fingers at someone else, we inheritly try to absolve ourselves of some blame. This world we live in is Everyone's responsiblity. Instead of pointing fingers at others, we should be spending more time figuring out what more we could be doing.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that if we all just hold hands and wish the world were a better place, then squirrels and song birds would come running and join us in a song while cherry blossoms fall from the sky.

What I do believe in is concrete action. An example, you say? Why certainly! Mr. Card is an author and a columnist. The title of his article was "Will the Last Real Journalist Please Turn the Lights On". Mr. Card needs to realize that rather than pointing fingers, his energy is much better spent 'turning the lights on' himself. Why doesn't Mr. Card go do an investigative jouranalism piece? He's intelligent, articulate, well-respected, and has the resources to put together an actual substantial piece of journalism. Instead, his article is full of fury and accusation, none of it backed up with sources which, for all of it's clarity and wordsmithing, still reduces it back to being a component of the tail-chasing mindset.

There's plenty of blame to go around, for everything, all the time. We are all angels and we're all devils. We need to spend less time blaming, and more time doing. The only finger pointing that should be going on is when we stand in front of a mirror.

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