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
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