Each morning, driving into Belfast (not so bad when the schools are on holiday), we listen to BBC Radio Ulster. It’s the only time in the day when I receive the news via a human voice rather than through the blue-on-white of Google Reader, but I’m getting fed up with it.
Take this morning as an example of why. Yesterday the Air Traffic Control radar at Dublin Airport fell over causing delays, diversions and cancellations to mess with the plans of many a holiday-maker. This morning a representative of one of the airlines was being interviewed on the radio. The first question he was asked: “Who is to blame?”
The was no acknowledgement that sometimes these things happen, and only a passing reference to the fact that the decision to take the system down was intended primarily to ensure the safety of flights in and out of the airport. The interviewer’s main concern seemed to be who would be held accountable for this terrible, awful, atrocious turn of events where no-one at all was injured.
I’m coming to despise that phrase, “held accountable”, and all the other variations that express the same idea: this was someone’s fault, and they shall pay.
It shows in the journalism, where interviewers seem to believe that their job is primarily to make their interviewee, whoever they may be, squirm as much as possible. Sometimes the desire to ask a tough and hard-nosed question is necessary, often it’s just silly and irrelevant. It shows in the phone calls, emails and text-messages from listeners, as the new, interactive BBC lets everyone throw in their two pen’orth. And you can see plenty of it — more, even! — online where the communication is oh-so-easy.
Of course society needs to ensure that everyone from government to grocer deals fairly, honestly and safely with each other, but I wish we could recover the shrug of the shoulder that recognises that sometimes stuff just happens, you know?
Again I think about something I’ve seen or heard, and I wonder about grace. When I encounter a mistake or an inconvenience, I do my best to remember to acknowledge no harm and let it go, but it’s tough when everything I listen to in the morning is focussed on assigning blame.
Do you think we could manage, as a society — especially in this little corner of the world where so much real harm and hurt still casts it shadow — to try for that grace?