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‘Pass the buck’

A very close friend of mine once said to me that I am a  “master of excuses”. The comment infuriated me so much that it took me a while to come out of the shock experienced. Finally when sanity prevailed, I inquired why I was accused of being an “excuser”, the response was even more spontaneous than I expected. “You never take responsibility for your actions or statements”. Like a true Pakistani, I brushed off all the allegations and adopted the policy of, tit for tat, and hit back at my friend. But somehow the accusations kept on haunting me and forced me to think that may be my friend’s remarks were not completely baseless. The first thing I did was to look around and find out whether I am the odd one out or there are others who are also infected by this virus. In fact, I was trying to find another “excuse”, for my behavior, only to realize that the whole society has fallen prey to the “excuse culture”.

It doesn’t require keen observation to understand this, just review a day of your life and you will realize that you are surrounded by people who always have someone else to blame for their deeds.  From a common man to the Government, nobody is ready to take the responsibility. If the Government fails to deliver, it passes on the blame to the opposition or some uncontrollable forces. Your co-worker, friend or even relative will have a perfect justification for not meeting a promise. The grocery store owner will blame the market forces for the hike in commodity prices. Even your milkman will have a scapegoat in the form of a supplier for poor quality milk.

There can be number of reasons for this irresponsible behavior, but the most important part of it is the ramifications factor. The fear of an unwelcome outcome has a direct relationship with our decision making process. We’ve been groomed in a very dependable environment, in which we are constantly reminded that if we make our own decisions, they can lead us to unpleasant outcomes. So at the very outset of our lives we outsource our decision-making mechanism, which frees us from all kind of accountability and allow us the psychological leverage to pass on the blame to someone else if something goes wrong. So as an adult when we have to call the shots, we always look for an escape route once we fail to meet our commitments.

This “blame game” strategy is rigorously exercised by our successive Governments and we adopt the same strategy in our daily lives as well. Whenever we feel threatened from an outrage, either we shy away from owning our decisions, or else we point fingers at someone else for our deeds. Thus, starts a never ending cycle of blames, where everyone passes on the blame to others and you fail to find the actual perpetrator whom you can hold responsible. We spend major part of our lives convincing ourselves, that our excuses are logical while the rest makes nonsensical excuses, not realizing that if each one of us holds to our position, it can solve majority of our problems. But it’s difficult to swim against the tide, when the whole society around you thrives on “excuse culture”, intentionally or unintentionally you also become a part of it.

Identifying a problem is actually the first step towards correction. Sadly we are not even ready to admit it as a problem; instead we accept “blaming” as a social norm. We have to understand that we can’t confront someone of being “excusive”, unless we are not committing the same sin. We will have to step up and start behaving more responsibly and at the same time should not allow anyone to hide behind an excuse. The whole society will have to make an earnest effort to change this culture; otherwise we will keep on playing the game of “passing the buck”.

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