The fourth rule of civility is one that I find to be seriously lacking in modern-day society. How often do we see people own up to their actions rather than trying to shift blame? Someone does something wrong, whether it’s intentional or not, and rather than offering a genuine apology or trying to smooth things over, he or she falls back on excuses, excuses, excuses.
I suppose it’s just human nature to go on the defensive when you feel like you’re in the wrong or under attack. That doesn’t mean it’s right. One of the most important lessons we try to instill in children is to take responsibility and shoulder the blame if they do something wrong. If you were caught acting up, didn’t do your chores, or didn’t take care of the things you were responsible for, you were punished. Now that we’re all grown up, we seem to forget that lesson. It’s all about slipping out of the spotlight and shifting blame. What happened to holding yourself accountable?
So often we say things were “taken out of context,” or “misunderstood.” We shrug off bad behavior because we’re “just telling it like it is.” “That’s the way the world works,” we say. When our critics persist, we tell them to “get over it” or “move on.” We act so self-righteous without even stopping to consider whether or not we’ve accepted any blame or expressed any sincere apology.
For a civil society to prosper, people really need to start holding themselves accountable. Maybe once they do they will give more consideration as to how their words and actions affect others.