Who’s to Blame? Thinking Bigger about Blame to Solve Significant Problems

Trump blames China. Democrats blame Trump. His followers blame Bill Gates.

Meanwhile, Covid19 roars back to record numbers after an initial decline.

Who is really to blame?

Does it really matter?

Those that follow this blog know that I’m not a political extremist, in fact, I seldom write about a political perspective. Instead, I write and work to solve significant problems with compassion, communication, and collaboration.

Blaming doesn't solve significant problems.

In this post, we detail those who are to blame for the poor response by the U.S. In the process, we discuss how focusing on blame frustrates solving significant problems. Scroll to the end to see how we can Think Bigger about blame to Reach Higher and doing what we may have thought was impossible.  

The Resurgence of COVID19

The recent surge in COVID19 cases in Texas, Florida, and other southern states coincides with Republican governors elected by proTrump voters. That’s the easy answer.

Look deeper and we find that 24-40-year-olds are now appearing as the victims and the culprits. They have crowded bars and beaches without a general consideration for physical distancing and are now the ones paying the price.

Meanwhile, a cultural war has broken out over mask-no masks with the no-mask advocates proudly declaring their rights.

Meanwhile Europe has flattened their curve to the point of safely reopening without a resurgence and are likely to ban U.S. residents from traveling to their countries. Where once the U.S. led the world, today we are ridiculed.

So we ask the question, “who’s to blame?”  

Who’s to Blame?

There are many to blame ranging from the voters to the politicians. Donald Trump has stood his egotistical ground defying the disease, scientists, and the need for masks at a time when we needed a strong voice to bring us together. Instead of unifying us, he has divided us. His rhetoric inflames when encouragement, peace, and patience is needed. He blames and worries about how this crisis reflects upon him. His ego makes the world his mirror when his heart should be our window to the future. Yes, the president is to blame, at least in part.  

Our congressional representatives have continued to play politics, seemingly more concerned with getting re-elected and pandering to their voters than taking the bold stand. That goes for Democrats as well as Republicans. We needed to hear their voice loud and clear, especially those who disagreed with the President representing their party. To some degree, political leaders of both parties are to blame. We can argue which party is more to blame but making that choice does not absolve either. In these dire days, we need political leaders who solve problems.

State leaders have also vacillated. Governors needed to be more forceful from the beginning. Instead, they feared the backlash by the vocal minority clinging to their rights. We needed to hear that voice of compassion like a church bell on a quiet morning. Let it ring. Call us to a higher purpose. Lead us by exhibiting behavior that denies selfish actions plays politics. Lead us to that proverbial promised land. You haven’t solved the problems we elected you to solve so you are to blame.

Make no mistake. There have been those business leaders who have stepped up, quickly switched to making masks, shields, and sanitizer. We applaud each of you. You have led without being asked. Thank you. You deserve no blame.

While the medical leaders have worked feverishly to find treatments and curb this virus, they also confused the situation with the vacillation between mask-no mask. We do appreciate every one of the frontline workers who have sacrificed their time and effort to keep us healthy and treat the infected. You deserve the celebration for the risks you have taken. We grieve those who have been infected and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Yet I wonder where the corporate leadership was in those hospitals that favored an “on-demand” inventory system that didn’t plan for a pandemic despite the warnings. Wasn’t that your job?  Failing to prepare for that which had been forecast by world medical leaders puts some of the blame squarely on your shoulders.

We needed a clear, consistent voice declaring the need for masks. Instead, the message was conflicting and confusing. Imagine if, from the beginning, there would have been a consistent message that masks, even thin fabric ones, worked. Imagine the public service announcements that never aired. Imagine celebrities and sports leaders encouraging everyone to make their own masks and wear them properly. Maybe the mask-no mask war would have been an isolated skirmish. We understand the shortage of personal protective equipment in hospitals. That’s understandable but don’t lie or mislead the public. You are the voices of science. We can’t afford to be confused by you. The confusion of your voice invites righteous blame. In placing profits above preparation and people’s lives, you too deserve blame.

Then there is the media that clamors for viewers. Too often, they sensationalize partisan politics and hype “breaking news” to attract eyeballs to the screen to garner advertising dollars. Occasionally they fabricate photos to shape perceptions and even demand public policy. Sadly, they argue they are the public watchdog that is “on your side” when they are only increasing the public stress. But it isn’t just traditional television or print news. The blame carries over to social media like Facebook that has played partisan politics by not fact-checking all advertisements. To at least some degree, the media deserves some of the blame.

The seemingly indestructible youth boldly refused to wear masks or physically distance. Was it because this seemed to be an “elderly disease” that didn’t affect you? Remember the college student on spring break on a Clearwater, Florida beach that brazenly proclaimed his independence? His later remorse after testing positive triggered a justified “I told you so” response. Does that seem cold? If so, it’s not as cold as you not caring about the older population. In your youthful defiance, you too are to blame.

Then there are the voters. We, not they, elected these political leaders. At what point do we discontinue believing their self-promotional rhetoric? What have we done to fuel the paralyzing partisanship? What have we done to listen to understand those who disagree with us? What have we done to chastise our own party leaders and their inaction? Ultimately, the bloody guilt is on our hands. Like Macbeth, we cannot wash it off.

Finally, we have to look at ourselves. Have we remained quiet, fearful of causing conflict or alienating friends? Too many of us have remained silent when we could have easily liked or shared a Facebook post. We could have spoken up and asked the difficult question. We could have done more. Instead of arguing, we could have reasoned. Instead of following the ill-advised model of our leaders, we could have thought bigger and reached higher.

So who’s to blame?

All of us. But there is a bigger question.

“So What?”

We have taken the time to determine the blame. We have come to our conclusions. So what? How will that make any difference in our lives?

The blaming and counter blaming only severs to absolve ourselves or our leaders from guilt for not solving problems. Blaming is an exercise of the ego that puffs ourselves up at the expense of others. Too many determine guilt to absolve their own guilty conscience. While it often feels good to say, “at least I’m not as bad as . . .” it’s a waste of time.

Blaming is a childish game unless it leads us to determine rightful guilt, making the necessary changes, and then solving the problems. Blaming is designed to be a very brief gesture in solving significant problems.

Unfortunately, blaming has been seen as the end result of a contentious game. Would you agree that politicians are elected to solve problems, not prove their point?

Guilt is designed to teach. If it doesn’t teach, it does no good. Blaming is valuable to determine legitimately who made what mistakes and how we can remedy them quickly. Remember, blaming without taking action is wasted emotions designed to puff ourselves up by tearing down another. Blaming alone doesn’t solve significant problems. Blaming is often a cruel distraction from our ultimate goal. It feels good but doesn’t make any difference.

We can do much better when we stop and think bigger.

Think Bigger & Reach Higher

Let’s move beyond the polarized blaming game and solve the problems. The COVID19 vaccine is at least 6 months away. Blaming isn’t going to bring it any quicker. Blaming isn’t going to prevent more economic damage. Wrongful blaming and ineffective solutions will only increase economic trauma.

We need to learn from our mistakes and make corrective action.

First, identify all those responsible. Re-read the shortlist above. Who else was at fault. Don’t spend a lot of time on this. Don’t make it personal. Identify what should have been done by whom at what time. Keep emotions out of it. This is an exercise simply to identify corrective actions that were not taken. This is a lesson we all need to learn.

Second, change your attitude. Instead of “us vs them,” think “we.” Instead of competition, think compassionate collaboration. Come together to solve the significant problem that will alleviate individual and collective pain. See the blame on everyone’s hands, especially our own. Prioritize solving problems instead of complaining about your inconvenience. Worry less about that splinter in another’s eye instead of the plank in your own.

Third, identify the best strategy that will solve the problem, or at least make it better. Move away from the emotional defense to the logical strategy. You don’t have to be in a leadership position to do this. Disengage from the drama to strategize the success. In other worse, actively work to find a solution. That solution might mean removing leaders that didn’t solve the problem. If you believe Trump should have done better, work to remove him from office. Get involved in a campaign. Don’t just rail about him on Facebook. Hold politicians and other leaders responsible. Start with your own party and push them to effective action instead of empty efforts. Remind them that you voted them into office. Even if Biden isn’t your top choice, work with him to hear your displeasure. Politicians listen when their election is at risk. Get others to join you. If not the presidential race, get involved at the state or local races. Maybe increasing your own voice by starting a blog or a podcast is what is needed. The options are endless when you choose to be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem. The bottom line is to take action to solve the problem.

Fourth, examine your thinking and beliefs. One of the most significant things you can do is biggest actions you can take is to make a decision to cut through the noise and listen to the most reliable information. Think bigger about where you get your information. Who said it? Why should I believe it? What evidence is there to support it? Think bigger about who you believe and why. If scientists have not done the research and hold the results, what you believe is simply an opinion or a theory. I don’t care if your pastor said it. I definitely don’t care if your favorite talk show host said it. You can guess that I don’t care that you read it on social media. Unless that theory has been examined by objective, professional individuals, it is just an opinion, a personal wish, or a ploy to get readers. When seeking to solve a medical problem, I’m sorry but pastors, media, and some anonymous contributor is not credible. Prioritize listening to medical researchers to solve medical problems.

Fifth, and this is a critical point, reach higher. Even though they are inconvenient and you might feel embarrassed, wear masks. Forget about “my rights” in favor of everyone performing “my duty to others.Keep your distance. Show respect by washing your hands properly and frequently. Remember, we are all in this together.

When we think bigger and reach higher, we quickly move beyond blame to taking effective actions to solve the significant actions.

(c) 2020 Murfield International, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Loren Murfield, Ph.D.

Dr. Murfield holds a PhD in Communication and works with leaders and organizations to solve significant problems with innovative thinking. What problem is frustrating you? Contact us today.

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