Placing Blame

As you can imagine there’s a lot of finger pointing today. It’ll continue for some time to time, I’m sure.

What it brings to mind is something that I read not that long ago with respect to blame.

My recollection is imprecise, of course, so I’ll simply present my take on the difference between blame and responsibility. While the two are often used interchangeably, choosing to assign them a nuanced difference gives us some choices in how we view events.

Blame feels like a negative, rear-facing assignment of cause. People that should have voted did not, for example. The word “should” it a good indicator of blame – X should have done Y.

Responsibility feels like a more positive analysis when looking backwards, and a more positive call to action when looking forward. The party’s inability to select a relatable candidate might be responsible for low voter turnout. Now that the election is over they’re responsible for working with the victor.

Responsibility feels much more analytical and constructive than blame. With blame you point fingers. Assigning responsibilities in either direction is a step towards solving problems.

To me it speaks volumes that blame is not forward-looking, but assigned to events after the fact. (Even predicted blame is still assigning to events that have not yet occurred.)