Originally posted to Facebook Notes
Accountability for one’s self, one’s responsibilities and the consequences of one’s actions is often cited as a deficiency in modern culture. While an accurate assessment, it is important to also approach the subject of accountability with some selectivity in a few distinct cases. Very few people I have run across seem to have examined this issue in this manner so I think it’s worthy to point it out.
If your actions have an effect on another; intentional, incidental or unintended, this is where accountability would seem to take place. But it is important also to examine the nature of the ‘effect’ and, more specifically “who’s action” was the true cause of the resulting effect. Now you are probably saying “huh?” so how’s about an example.
Your neighbor paints his house pink. You don’t like pink, therefore the effect of his painting his house that color is to offend your sense of what constitutes proper exterior decorating. His cause or yours? It is your choice not to like pink for houses, not his.
Now imagine the same scenario, and his painting the house pink now lowers property values in the neighborhood – why? Because you aren’t the only one that doesn’t like pink houses. Is it his fault? Still likely not. The choice not to like pink is indirectly effecting the value of your house through the perspective of what others ‘choose’ to like or dislike. A sticky wicket indeed whereas accountability is concerned, but you would not be wise condemning your neighbor for the value judgments of others even if it adversely effects you. (with the ‘possible’ exception wherein your neighbor intentionally paints his house that color specifically because he knows it will offend others and/or will lower their neighbors property values as a result)
This plays out in a great many facets of culture and society especially where it applies to matters that, for lack of a better category, fall under the banner of racism, prejudice and bigotry. Whether it be a factor of race, gender, lifestyle, age or beliefs the concept of adverse effect seems to be highly speculative in the majority of cases.
Amazingly enough however, the same can be said many times for those allegedly fighting against those very categories. It seems anti-racism and anti-bigotry groups have taken Politically Correct (PC) speech (as well as many other topics of the debate) over the deep end with the same kind of ill-logic.
People need to be, and should be more accountable for the effects of their actions, yes. But we should not hold individuals responsible for actions or choices that are beyond their control and as a direct result of personal ‘choices’ of others or ourselves.