Why Are We Surprised By Lack Of Accountability?
I'm Not Perfect
I am a mom and professional who is definitely not without flaws. I try hard, but invariably, there's at least several things I muck up at least several times a day. Thankfully these seem to be relatively small issues, but the fact is, when I mess up, I'm one of the first people to "own my crap," as it were, and admit to my error.
It's called accountability. People who are accountable can, at the very least, be counted on to take responsibility for things they have possibly messed up on and be trusted to give people the straight goods about things that have happened. They can also be counted on to show up when needed and take responsibility.
Why aren't we seeing that more in kids today?
It's gotten very easy to say, "Not me," or "You didn't tell me." However, this is not an affliction that is unique to youth.
Most recently, US presidential candidate Donald Trump has been fighting off detractors about the leaked tape from 2005 in which he can be heard discussing blatant sexual assaults, and sounding quite pleased about it. The closest thing that the American public got to an apology from this sexist candidate was "I'm not perfect," and since then, everyone from the Clinton campaign, to the comedians at Saturday Night Live, to the growing list of women who have said that Trump was inappropriate with them have been blamed for revelations of his behavior.
The man is 70. He should damn well know better and be able to say, "I messed up, but I have learned and grown from it."
I realize that Hillary Rodham Clinton is not exactly the picture of innocence when it comes to her own transgressions. I wouldn't be eager to engage in any sort of email exchange with the Democratic Party's candidate, as her own excuses for her transgressions are quite long.
When Bill Clinton was in office, going through the impeachment process, he came out and said on television that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman." If you're looking at the traditional versions of sex and sexual relations, perhaps it could be argued that Bill Clinton is very right in saying that he did not, in fact, have sex with Monica Lewinsky. But playing with semantics also seems to divest Bill Clinton of his own responsibility in his intimate relationship with Lewinsky.
Unfettered By Responsibility
Even Donald Trump's current wife Melania appears to be allowing her husband the opportunity to shirk responsibility by pointing fingers elsewhere regarding the hot mic scandal that is currently rocking Trump's campaign and that, for the moment, it seems, has sunk Billy Bush's broadcasting career. It's not his fault, says she, that he said what he did about women; Bush egged him on to say "dirty and bad stuff." Her husband, says she, continues to have a great deal of respect for women.
And now, there is a parade of women who are starting to come forward and say that the Donald has essentially been a dirtbag to them. Is there any acceptance of responsibility forthcoming from Trump? Of course not; he either doesn't remember, or denies that he'd even be attracted to the woman in question, or dismisses the claims as total fabrications.
Here's the problem - if it was only one woman stepping forward, it might be easier for Trump to deny. At last count, there were at least a dozen women, all with similar stories of Trump being quite inappropriate. Not only that, there was an outcry when comedian Bill Cosby's accusers were dismissed by several courts of public opinion because the victim should be believed. Why is Trump any different?
He's not. Not by a long shot. There should be an investigation to substantiate any of these claims, and if there's enough to go on to charge Trump, let's see it happen.
But there isn't anything happening. That's the problem. Trump now has his supporters, and perhaps some others, believing his denial of responsibility.
One would think that as a successful businessman, Trump would have to shoulder responsibility both when things go well and when things tank. When things tank, though, it's always someone else's fault, not his own.
He's not the only one in that boat. Look at many members of our youth today: assignments are missed, and teachers get the reply that the student was gone all weekend, or was sick, or had to ensure his pet goldfish survived until the parents got home. In any job field, bosses might hear explanations like, "I didn't hear you say that."
We need to keep reinforcing with our kids the notion that if something is missed or forgotten, the person responsible is themselves. The problem is, when you look at the country's leadership - potential or otherwise - our kids are not seeing anything to support the notion that accepting responsibility is a good thing. Kids in television shows - some of them, anyhow - merely smile gamely and shrug should they mess up. That's not reality, but when they are seeing kids their own age and adults that are supposed to be role models not accepting responsibility for their own mistakes and behavior, there's a real problem.
It's a dangerous cycle that's perpetuating, and we need to take a hard look at the adults in our kids' lives to determine if, beyond ourselves as parents, those are the people we want our kids to emulate.