After running around the past few days, I have a lot of thoughts on the recent typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy for the Filipinos) but I haven’t had the time to synthesize everything. I’ll write about the events some other time. One thing that has been bothering me though is the blame passing going on. It’s the government’s fault. It’s our mayor’s fault. It’s the barangay captain’s fault. It’s the NGO’s fault or the fault of the NGO’s boss. It’s our fault – for our sins as one lady put it. Even to some it’s God’s fault.
So many different opinions on who’s at fault. So much blame going around. But who really is at fault?
I really don’t know. And I really don’t care.
The word FAULT means a DEFECT or a SHORTCOMING. Many times, when someone’s at fault, when someone has a defect or a shortcoming, that person won’t be able to fix things, even if we identify him, because usually that defect or shortcoming that caused the failing is still present. So wasting our time figuring out whom to blame only gives us scapegoats. It doesn’t give us solutions.
And it is SOLUTIONS not SCAPEGOATS that we need.
I think we’re asking the wrong question. Instead we should be asking, “Who will be responsible?”
Who Will Be Responsible?
When I was younger, whenever my parents would put me in charge of certain tasks, I would give excuses and say, “Why should I do that? It doesn’t affect me?” or “Why should I fix that? It’s not my fault that’s broken.” They would give me the same simple answer, “I’m not asking you if you’re affected. I’m not asking you whose fault it is. I’m asking you to be responsible.”
Later on I would understand that being responsible has nothing to do with whose fault it is. It has everything to do with how you RESPOND, which is where the word responsibility comes from. It is not a REACTIVE response that says, “You’re at fault. You messed up. You’re evil. Fix it.” Instead, it is a PROACTIVE one that says, “I may not be at fault, this may not be my problem, but I will make myself accountable and I will fix this. I will find a SOLUTION.”
I like to define SOLUTIONS as ANSWERS with ACTIONS. It’s not just an idea or a thought or a plan, it’s the right idea, the right thought, and the right plan, executed the right way. And we will not get everything right until we have the right person.
And how do we know if a person is the right one?
The right person is simply the one who is willing and able to be responsible.
Watching the response of many of the Victory, Habitat for Humanity, and Real LIFE people, along with many other selfless Filipinos, was so encouraging. A lot of these people have never done anything like this before. No one was ready for how bad the storm turned out to be. Very few, if any, had training in disaster response or Wading in Mud 101, but to see the pastors mobilize, the volunteers form assembly lines, Doc, Lynn, Ariel and scholars wade the flood (For those of you who want a reference it’s worse than stepping inside a used toilet bowl.), being in the Habitat board meeting (Missing the very important contributions of our president, Bert Jugo, who had to have an emergency bypass. Please pray for him.), all of these helped emphasize that it’s more about taking responsibility than readiness. Because when someone decides to be responsible, whether or not he or she is ready, then solutions start forming, and even more powerful is when groups of people who have decided to be responsible work together, combining their strengths and covering for each other’s deficiencies.
Don’t think about who is at fault. Don’t think about whether you’re doing someone else’s job or whether someone is getting off easy. Don’t think about whether you’re ready. Decide in your heart to be responsible, think about how you can respond correctly, and respond accordingly.
HE Who Goes Before You
My father once asked me to take over an ailing business bogged down by large debts, destroyed distribution, falling sales, and almost every problem you could think of. His instructions were simple, “David, you’re responsible now.” I remember walking into my new office, closing the door behind me, and with my hands resting on my U-shaped desk, I bowed my head and prayed, “Father, here we go. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to do. Help me. Help me. Help me.”
And He did come through. He continues to.
Let’s take this past Ketsana and apply this to the rest of our lives. At some point we will all be called to respond to a situation, to a call, to a need, and many times, if not all the time, we won’t be ready. But we can draw strength from Deuteronomy 31:8 that says:
The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
He goes before you – before the floods and storms, before needs and concerns, before politicians and crocodiles, before sickness and pain – He goes before you. So rise up and be responsible. Do not be afraid. He goes before you.