“When you blame others, you give up your power to change”—Robert Anthony
Life has its ups and downs. When the going is good, we take full credit but when faced with misfortunes, we look for a scapegoat to place the blame on. The consequential effects of certain decisions made by others or certain conditions in our way can have a detrimental impact on our own lives leaving us, at times in doldrums or causing us problems we would not have faced otherwise or worse still, overturning our personalities to the extent that we may end up becoming what we would not like to be, or even criminals. In other words, we are prone to blaming others for whatever bad happens to us and in doing so, absolve ourselves of all responsibilities. On the contrary, it is very difficult to take blame on oneself. A quick review, however, might indicate that not just one but the conglomeration of multiple factors, including our own actions, contribute to the disadvantageous position in which we may eventually land.
To illustrate one can take the example of a road accident witnessed by this scribe. A paid employee was driving his employer’s children from school on the right side of the road and as he needed to turn right, his neck was naturally inclined towards the left to check for any traffic from the opposite side. Much to his dismay and shock, another motorist who was not law observant collided with his car. Instead of admitting his fault, the violator started abusing the law-abiding citizen and ridiculed him for looking in the opposite direction, blaming him for the accident. Seriously? Someone here needed to know who was actually responsible but this requires a tremendous amount of self-awareness and deep understanding, which many of us lack. Hurling accusations on others tantamount to ‘offence is the best defence’ to cover up one’s faults or for trying to give a false explanation for a particular situation, better known as psychological projection whereby whatever is coming from the “inside” is misinterpreted as coming from “outside.”
This background would facilitate in comprehending the under current political situation as it exists in our beloved country Pakistan that is struggling to learn democratic nuances, albeit slowly, amid a cataclysmic political blame game that is fast gaining speed. Each consecutive government that takes on power finds it convenient to blame its predecessor for its every subsequent decision that happens to be foolhardy. This has been going on for quite some time building a thought pattern that removes inhibitions necessary to restrain from acting badly allowing the governments to take actions that shame the moral code. Just like the notorious circular debts of the power and gas sectors, we keep on moving within the vicious circle of blame game.
At least for the last couple of decades, if not more we are witnessing constant political unrest, deteriorating law and order situation, erosion of prime public institutions, rising corruption cases at all levels of hierarchy, deteriorating international relations, an economy that is on the brink of total collapse and ballooning debts that each new-born Pakistani infant is encumbering. All because no one is willing to take responsibility, throwing the burden on others and resorting to measures that defy sense and sensibility instead of finding concrete solutions and resurrecting whatever has gone out of control. The pandemonium remains constant with every succeeding government spending the major part of its term in justifying its vile actions or even inactions by throwing blames on earlier government(s).
J.K. Rowling, the famous author of Harry Potter series says: “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.” If only our political stalwarts could be trained to behave in a pragmatic manner by overcoming disharmony, abstaining from foul-mouthing their counterparts, thinking out-of-the-box, putting their heads together to steer the country’s staggering ship out of turbulent seas of civilian unrest, stop blaming and start acting positively.
Like any other profession, politics should be practiced by those who truly have the competence, just the way experts work in mega companies turning around their fate altogether. Take the example of private banks that were nationalized in 1974. Not only did their performance become pathetic, they also incurred continuous losses until these were again privatized in 1991 to be taken over by highly professional bankers who restored them to their best form. Rather than blaming the earlier managers for their sloppiness, they worked towards rejuvenation and within no time, the same banks not only achieved high service standards, their profits also soared up giving them a worthwhile position in the country’s prime stock exchanges raising the demand of their shares.
Pakistan is also in dire need of extremely proficient professional politicians who resort to more work and less talk, let alone babble about what others did wrong because of which they cannot do right. Sincerity speaks for itself in deeds. We want change but change for the better requires critical decisions that can only be taken by those earnestly desiring change. Blaming others means that one is paying mere lip service to the idea of change but in fact is powerless to actually bringing it about.
We are once again poised at the cross-roads of an elected coalition government led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf replaced by a new one (before completion of the original five years term) that is confronted with incredible challenges allegedly hurled at them by the outgoing government. Only time will tell whether these challenges would be met with a renewed sense of responsibility accompanied with accountability. However, there is a greater possibility that the blame game will be on again because only then would there be justification for not bringing about the much needed structural reforms essential to changing the destiny of this country.
The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), member Advisory Board and Senior Visiting Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)