Generalizing the Blame / Fernando Dámaso

In my country there is this unfortunate custom of generalizing blame. Thus, when someone commits errors and, for one reason or another, sees himself obligated to explain them publicly, he doesn’t say “I made a mistake” but “we made a mistake.” He involves everyone who listens, be it ten, a thousand, or a million people. It must come from the supposition that shared blame touches fewer. Without a doubt, it’s a comfortable and advantageous position.

Anywhere the Constitution and laws are respected, when a public figure makes a mistake and, as a result, affects the lives of citizens, he should answer for it, and until he can, be separated from his duties. Examples are superfluous. Conceding the right to correct one’s errors is not the most usual course, much less to do so repeatedly. Just as no one is indispensable, no one possesses absolute truth — if he fails, he should leave the road free to those more capable and with better solutions. This practice excludes no one.

In closed systems, where power is obtained to hold onto it until the last breath, errors and mistakes repeat cyclically, using the nation as a laboratory and its citizens as guinea pigs, to experiment as it might occur to someone, without any concern for the costs, or the failures, and without having to account for them.

It’s something complex and difficult to solve, but not impossible. Each of us can start taking responsibility for our irresponsibilities and substituting the “we” with “I.” Thus the blame never becomes diluted, and it has a name. Nobody should be considered infallible nor untouchable. This would be a healthy and civilized way to clear paths.

With the advent of a new year, it’s right to think about these things and dream that they might come true, for at least — after so many failed years — to not lose the little optimism that still remains.

December 25, 2010