The Lost Art of Accountability

There’s a lot of talk lately about reconciliation and unity. However, one crucial step is missing: accountability.

“We need to move forward,” or “We’re willing to work with you, but we won’t just follow in lock-step ” is what we hear on television.

Critical self-evaluation of past actions is as true for groups as it is for individuals. If we move forward without this important reflection, then it will just be a kind superficial unity. Go along to get along. Old grievances will lie just under the surface and fester into resentment.

In very many ways, the season of Lent is about being accountable for our actions. It’s why the sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) is widely encouraged this time of the year.

Americans are hurting. Collectively, we have had a rough 2020. 2021 looks to give us some respite with the availability and distribution of a vaccine.

But 2020 was just the roughest of a very tough 3 years. Some of us witnessed our friends being attacked for who they are, by people who were emboldened by the rhetoric of political leadership. Last Spring we all witnessed the death of George Floyd, and African-American man. His killer was a police officer who was being filmed, and didn’t care that he was going to be viral. We witnessed the death of Ahmaud Arbery, also an African American man. His attackers killed him in broad daylight; their friend filmed it.

And then there was the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. The day the Electoral College confirmed Joe Biden for President. The insurrection was played out on live TV and streamed online.

And false accusations of voter-fraud.

And denial of the severity of Covid-19 despite the amount of people dying from it.

There have been other headline-grabbing incidents, but these will suffice.

These happened in public because people were emboldened in public.

You see, there is a LOT that people are reeling from. This is why it is soooo important to hear accountability and responsibility from those who have been a party the above described events.

Maybe they stood on the sidelines and said nothing.

Maybe they refused to acknowledge the issue.

Maybe they place blame solely on those who have perpetrated crimes and have not followed the breadcrumbs.

And maybe they stoked the flames of distrust and anger that lead to the January 6th insurrection. Whatever their level of involvement, we cannot move on unless and until accountability happens.

That’s how reconciliation works.

With this weekends CPAC conference it seems that no one is ready to admit accountability and we won’t get the reconciliation we so desperately need.

To underscore the need for accountability, take a look at this moving story of how Fred Rogers held himself accountable to his grandson. Had he not done, he never would have experiencedthe forgiveness he needed.

Skip to 1:39 for the forgiveness story

From Resentment to Gratitude

When we get offended, we sometimes choose to hold onto anger, bitterness, and pride. None of this puts us in right relationship with God, others, or ourselves. It only serves to alienate us from others.

Father Michael White, “Messages of Letting Go for Lent 2021.”

Resentments will kill me.

Last March I was laid off from my job because of Covid-19. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve worked a side-gig to help make ends meet while also collecting unemployment (NY allows you to do this, up to a certain amount of $$$).

There has been much discussion about Covid relief payments to laid people. Some of it kind, some of it not so kind. Many people are in favor of those like me receiving some kind of relief from the government. A few are not.

It’s those few who have stuck in my mind.

“If we keep giving them money, what incentive do they have to work?” is what I’ve heard in various forms. It’s a rather cynical view of the American worker; that the only reason we work is because of money; if we had the chance, we would choose not to work at all.

My faith has taught me that work is an integral part of who we are; that work makes us more complete human beings. Work can be redemptive.

Nevertheless, I am irked by the notion that getting money from the government will somehow make me lazier. I am more than irked. I actually resent the implications.

Resentment will kill me. It will make me angry, and keep me there. It will color my relationships. It’s just not good.

So how do I turn that around?


As crazy as it may sound, I am grateful to those who voiced their opposition to Covid relief. They forced me to deal with my resentment. That’s always a good thing.

I am also exceptionally grateful for the extra $$$ we get from Pandemic unemployment benefits. Not only does it help us pay our bills, but more importantly, it enables me to be a caregiver to my Dad. While my brother is his primary caregiver, I am my brothers respite care giver. Every day after work, I go to Dad, allowing my brother much needed relief.

If I did not receive this extra unemployment insurance, I would HAVE to work a second job. This would make me almost completely unable to be my brothers respite care giver. He would have no one who could be there on a regular, daily basis. I can be that person solely because of this added relief. There will be a day when we no longer have it, and when it comes I may have some difficult decisions to make. And I’m okay with that, because no matter how long I receive these added benefits, I will always be grateful I had them at all.


Messages of Letting Go for Lent 2021, Father Michael White

Network for Grateful Living

Lent & the Habit of Discipline

It’s easier, I think, to give up something.

Forging a new habit, or discipline, is difficult.

The past year or so, has been quite challenging, for all of us. I’ve been working two jobs for the better part of two years, and then Covid came along. Then, in October, my now 90 year old dad was hospitalized twice, for non-Covid problems. Since then, life has been “go to work; go help take care of Dad.” The second job I had is on the backburner.

Self care has been difficult, but that’s okay. Helping my brother take care of my father has taken me out of myself. It’s forced me out of my comfort zone, and that is ALWAYS a good thing.

But now we are in the season of Lent, one of my favorite liturgical seasons of the year. In Lent, I get to do a lot of self-reflection. Lent is a season of renewal. Wait, it’s actually more than that. Lent is a season of conversion: of becoming a new self.

One of my Lenten practices is meditating on Wendell Berry and the Sabbath Poetry of Lent, put out by the SALT Project, along with scripture and the lectionary. I will write about that process in a later post.

Another one of my Lenten practices is taking up this blog again. I realize that I need to write. Feeling a little rusty, but I know the more I write, the better my writing will be.

Posting on this blog is my way adding more discipline in my life. Discipline grounds me in a way nothing else does. I thrive with discipline, and thriving is what I’m lacking. Autopilot has taken over for me, as I suspect it has for most of us this year.

Consider this my (re)introductory post. To my longtime followers: thank you for your patience. To my new readers: hop on! Join me on the journey through Lent. I look forward to renewing myself with you all!


Wendell Berry and the Sabbath Poetry of Lent

This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems of Wendell Berry

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