A few people called me to task for my last blog and for good reason. In hindsight, the blog did have a certain accusatory tone to it. I think this e-mail says it well, ” No… not all of us; he would be hard pressed to find anyone in The Greatest Generation who did this.”
Now, I can’t speak for John Hope Bryant, but I know I intended the we to mean the Big We – in the societal, whole-world sense of we. But, it’s a good lesson for me andfor us to be careful when we make statements that are all-inclusive. Not just because we run the risk of alienating some, but more importantly because it can lull us in to faulty thinking.
What do I mean? Let me give you an example. When this financial crisis started, it was easy to point the finger at some big institutions that had let us down – Lehman Brothers, Bank of America, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and now Goldman Sachs – the list could go on and on. It was easy to think of them as the big we and we got frustrated by the lack of accessibility and accountability.
But, it’s important to remember that behind the big we, there are a lot of individual I’s. And, ultimately these I’s are the ones that got caught up in faulty decisions from focusing only on potential profits. It was easy for the I’s accountability to hide behind the big we. But ultimately, it was the I’s that made the decisions that lead to disaster.
So, next time I point the finger at the big we or the big you, I’m going to remember the I’s that make up our society – the ones that are behind it all – the ones that can really make a difference.
Heading off for a weeklong workshop on Cape Cod – lucky me!