Bad things happen. Crimes are committed every day, surgeries are botched, and bad drivers/drunk drivers/fatigued drivers, kill innocent travelers. In an ideal world none of this would happen but it does, and we display a host of reactions; everything from anger and fear to grief and depression, but the most puzzling reaction is that of blame and revenge….because it serves no purpose. Oddly enough it also seems to be the most common reaction.

Recently Nova Scotia suffered a mass shooting, a horrific and unimaginable slaughter of innocent bystanders by what can only be described as a mad man. It was awful, and if we could undo it we would. Our only logical reaction to this should be to allow ourselves to grieve, support those harmed, and learn from it. It seems though, that we are a society bent on revenge, looking to lay blame on someone, something.

RCMP are heavily criticized now for mishandling the situation, but is that fair? They made decisions to withhold certain information in order to avoid public panic. In hind sight perhaps they should’ve made different choices, but they did the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time. No one could’ve imagined how this situation would unfold and had they known they likely would’ve handled it differently. Don’t think that won’t haunt them.

I’ve heard of any number of cases where doctors have botched surgeries; people have come out of it seriously maimed or even died as a result of error. Malpractice suits are laid, licenses are suspended, careers are permanently damaged, and families are grief stricken. And when we put aside our own emotional connection we look to lay blame. Again, is that fair? Surely no doctor goes in to surgery planning to make a mistake.

Car accidents happen but is it fair to crucify the driver who simply erred? (drunk drivers excluded here because that’s preventable) The bad driver doesn’t think he’s bad and the fatigued driver honestly believes they are alert. No one commits these acts with the intention to hurt another. That’s why they call them ‘accidents’.

In any of these scenarios the individuals (police, doctors, private citizens) go into these situations with the best intentions. I have to believe that because we are all only human and so very vulnerable to error. How does pointing the finger of blame help with the healing?  It doesn’t. It’s just vengeful; someone, somewhere has to pay the price, for…. human error.

I listen to the news with a heavy heart and a large dose of sympathy for those targeted with the blame because they have to live not only with the knowledge that they made the wrong choice, (isn’t that enough?) but also with the onslaught of criticism and condemnation from the very people they tried to help.

As humans we are all prone to error and sometimes that error, thanks to our fellow man, is punishable by a lifetime of guilt. It’s counterproductive and often does more damage to humanity in the long term by creating feelings of insecurity and lack of confidence in our professionals. When we should band together in support of each other we instead look to lay blame. It’s a wonder there’s still people willing to go into medicine or law enforcement. Isn’t it time we started forgiving human error?

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