Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Accountability Today

I've had a problem with the levels of accountability in our society, in some areas, for a long time. Maybe some of you are thinking, "Ya, people need to be held more accountable for their actions." But no, I'm going to talk about the areas where we're held responsible to a seemingly excessive degree. Don't get me wrong. I think that criminals should be punished to suit the crime. I just also think that the crime should be judged by intent. Some people seem to consider a crime of omission or neglect as horrible as a crime of intent. A car accident, for instance, is too often seen as a car crime, in my opinion. I think a careless driver should definately be punished, but unless the driver is a repeat 'offender' that seems to have no concern for others, an accident should be treated as 'an accident' and not a crime. We should judge our fellow humans less for the mistakes they make, and more for their general good intentions.

The other area of concern for me is personal accountability for good and normal human actions. We have to be so careful these days what we do that we can't act from our good impulses, impulsively. A man, especially, can't stop and help a distressed child without considering what he may be charged with, not necessarily by the court system, but by society. I think seriously before recommending a babysitter. What if he/she does something wrong? I hesitate to ask someone if they want a lift home. What if I have an 'accident'? That goes both ways, too. If I accept a ride and my samaritan turns into a monster, I'm stupid for taking a ride from a stranger, so I hope I don't break my leg and have to accept a ride from just anyone. I just heard a good story about a retired nurse who watched a car sit in front of her home for a long period one day, until she finally got really worried about the driver and whether he was suffering some medical distress. She plucked up her courage, went to the car, and was completely shocked to discover an undercover police officer, who opened the window and yelled at her for approaching an unknown vehicle. It could have been a 'bad guy' and she could have been hurt. We all know a senior these days whose completely afraid of being set upon in real life or online, so you can imagine now this lady is much more freaked out than before. Well, I think she could have been hurt, but he could have been hurt, too. He said she should call 911 if she was worried, but I bet she'd have been charged, and called naive or stupid if she had.

Maybe most of these problems arise from the media - baring all of our dirty laundry, and therefore making the public hypersensitive to what might happen, just because it happened once to someone someplace. Don't get me wrong. I think it's important we have media. It's maybe just another kitten grown into a monster. For whatever reason, it's gotten way out of control somehow. Society is paralyzed by fear, fear of reprisals for living. It's one of the causes of the separation of mankind these days - how can we act as one organism when we're afraid of each other?