Editor’s Column: Collective energy

Imagine a house on fire. 

Now imagine the residents of the house standing in the living room, surrounded by flames, having a heated argument about whose fault it is that the house is burning. 

Seems strange, right? And yet we do it every day. 

We spend an inordinate amount of time and energy fixated on the cause of society’s woes and not nearly enough on solutions. It doesn’t matter if the problem is “who forgot to take out the trash” or “where did COVID come from” or “why is the planet getting hotter every year”? Instead of focusing our attention on solutions (setting a reminder for trash day, encouraging vaccinations, or doing less of things we know are bad for the environment), we obsess over who or what we can blame. 

Why do we do this? It’s easy. If we can point a finger at someone or something else, we can excuse ourselves from responsibility and walk away. It’s someone else’s problem. Someone else is to blame. 

I once heard a woman who lost her husband and a child in a car accident (she was driving the car) describe it this way: “I wanted to find someone to blame, but every time I pointed my finger at someone, there were three fingers pointing back at me.” Ouch. 

We may not personally carry the full weight of blame for the troubles to be found on our Big Blue Marble — poverty, racism, disease, violence, war … pick one  — but as collective inhabitants, we’re all impacted and we all have an opportunity to apply our collective energy toward making things better, one small step at a time. 

By NIKI TURNER | niki@ht1885.com