Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why Blame The System ?

We all love to play the blame game. Bad marks? Blame the teacher. No water/electricity? Blame the government. Traffic jams? Blame the roads. Crime problems? Blame the police. Caste riots? Blame politics. Shamelessly we go on. And yet feel proud about it.

Owning up responsibility requires a certain amount of courage and will, and here lies the biggest fault of our system, i.e. the inability to create responsible citizens. When people contemplate on a problem, the easy way out is to just blame and get away with it.

When we are school kids, the only authorities guiding us are parents and the school. However, both are working at their maximum efficiency in building our character, yet we blame our teachers for the bad performance in exams. We are unable to truly appreciate the fact that they have our best interests in their mind. Even in most situations, they would never mean selective harm to us.

As we grow up, in later stages of our education, we say that the rat race for engineering/ medical colleges and the associated coaching and tuition is caused by lack of quality institutions in the country that are able to compensate for the increasing demand for higher education. We blame the government for not providing infrastructure, but we are unable to exploit the facilities to their full potential.

On a parallel note, this fact becomes increasingly evident when we observe the government mechanisms, especially democracies. Here, every decision requires approval of all members of the decision making body. Even so, the opposition party often criticizes the government for any kind of mistake. This is well publicized by the media as blame-passing of politicians. The truth, however, is that its the job of the opposition to blame the government, to ensure its strict functioning. Also, the babus are lazy enough to ignore pleas of change in the system. They are ready to criticize other agencies for their own faults.

This case finds it strength especially in an academic environment such as IIT. As far as I have observed, every discussion here tends to end on ‘blame the system’ note. We have all kinds of passionate outbursts against the system which end up benefiting no one. On the other hand, no one bothers to channelize these energies in finding feasible solutions to these problems and getting them implemented.

This mindset of letting things be and constant procrastination ultimately leads to half-finished jobs, for which tomorrow, someone else will blame you, or, you yourself will start finding excuses. Determination and will are the keywords here.

Seriously, the tendency to blame the system is a convenient way of leaving no one accountable, and the faceless identity called the system gets a beating, which gives you a false sense of accomplishment of pinpointing the error in the situation


When we are angry (which is often), we need to release our tension. Typically, we do so by blaming someone.

Some of our problems are NOT: the hostel mess; an election rally speech; or the sports captains not procuring sports goods. Our problems ARE, respectively: people not getting quality food; words that do not lead to actions; and poor performance in sports.

Blaming fails to "cure" or even change anything for three reasons.

1. Blaming is seductive. It vents our anger and frustration at a specific target. They: made bad food; said one thing but did another; did not equip the players properly. Fire/Sack/Dismiss them!

This may feel good but does it: Get us better food? Match words with deeds? Improve our players?

2. Blame is usually placed on the wrong person or group. The problem is the system, not the mess secretary. It feels good to blame a specific person with a name badge, a weak personality, and an accident-prone character, but the system is too vague and amorphous. Blaming ‘the system’ does not satisfy us.

3. Blaming lets us off the hook: We fantasize that we actually did something. We identified a bad guy, punished him or them; and that solved the problem. Oh really?! When something is wrong, blaming does not make it right.

Fight vs Adapt

For proceeding to solve the problem, we must decide whether we have to fight the problem or adapt towards it. We can choose to either make efforts towards changing the existing situation, or change your own thinking approach for the situation. The first approach requires considerable time and effort, whereas the second method is much more feasible and easier to do. I shall describe both in detail.

The ‘Fight’ Approach

Fixing the problem requires identifying the real cause (not the person), and changing the circumstances so the cause ceases to exist. If market analysis was done and bills were passed on time with consultation of the seniors, the procuring of sports goods would have been a small task. If you really started making constructive suggestions to the mess committee, then you would feel part of the process and be less inclined to blame others for it.

We need to identify some real people or real political forces and not just some faceless entity that you call the system. We need to resist the urge to ‘Blame Someone’ or nothing will ever get better.

The ‘Adapt’ Approach

I feel that satisfaction has a greater self component than group component attached to it. It comes from within. We need to learn to get the best possible output from the opportunities provided to us, which I am pretty sure there is no dearth of. There are usually more than one way of approaching a task, and the search for these alternate ways often gives us advantage over others.

Instead of cursing on the bad mess food, we should appreciate the fact that we are at least getting three meals a day, which is a luxury compared to the street children fighting over bits of food just outside the campus.

We should have a strong sense of character judgment which cannot be swayed by the marketing tactics of the political leaders. Of course, if they are disturbing and intruding upon your daily activities and your choices, then that is ultimately their own loss, they are not getting your vote!

Real sportsmen seldom care about the lack of equipment. They can enjoy the game minus complaining equally well. If you are complaining, then that is plain egoism. Instead of complaining about the lack of facilities, we can always strive to perform better with the existing services.

No matter what stumbling blocks are thrown on the pathway let's use them as stepping stones to keep going and keep striving, and when one door closes be assured that another one will always open. Stop pointing the finger of blame. When we blame, we give whoever we blame the power over us. We are saying they are stronger, greater and have the power to keep us down.

Let us show that we will not curse the problem, we will be the agents of solution, and with our persistence and determination, the problem will come to curse us.

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