Accountable

"The benefits and possibilities that are created created by being personally accountable are countless." Jay Fiset



Accountability is truth actualized. Calls for unity without amends are inauthentic means of gaslighting, silencing, and minimizing harm. We cannot and should not move forward on any scale without the necessary recognition of all that has transpired. It's dangerous for all involved. Those that have caused harm continue aloof as to how they have caused harm for others and will continue to do so, or never take the opportunity to hold themselves accountable to responsibly own their "stuff." For those that are most directly impacted it's a questioning of sanity to even wonder if all that was experienced, felt, etc. was even real. It's a gutting discarding of truth in favor of prioritizing false comfort. People have to be uncomfortable. Harm has been caused. Pain has been given out. Violence in its forms has been perpetrated. 

There's no real path forward without the purposeful pause to take stock, catch up on realizations, share a truth, and commit to community. How can people trust one another when the harm that has been caused is blatantly ignored. It's knocking down a tower of blocks and then asking the person whose towers have been destroyed why they are not further along. It's pretending things are alright when the tension is apparent. It's expecting people to be okay, buddy buddy, friendly even without recognition of what happened. Some things we can get over. Some things are accidental. Some things are little mistakes. Other things are big harms. Some things get people seriously injured or killed. Some things change people's lives in drastic. There can be not unity without a reckoning. 

We are not meant to just trudge on. We're not meant to stifle our feelings. We're not just supposed to get over massive things - especially when others are involved. We owe people truth. It is the least we can do. We get to give them that comfort that what they experienced was real. People need to know they weren't imagining things, that they weren't overreacting, that what they felt was justified. In a world of unreasonableness, getting to confirm that yes people are reasonable in how they been impacted from the federal government, presidential administration, Senate wrangling, and Supreme Court adjudicating, all the way down to interpersonal relationships, harm, violence, slurs, policing, etc. is real. This applies less globally. We need to pause to repair community. 

We would not continue to fly in a hot air balloon if there was a gaping hole cause by passengers in the basket. Two things need to occur. The hole has to be repaired, and those that caused the hole need to realize the impact of what they did, and to learn how to behave differently for it to not be a continued problem. Often separating the deed from the doer, in an of itself a helpful distinction to avoid reductive absolutism, gets decontextualized to divorce people from they have caused. We have to name actors. Sometimes specific people are implicated, and that's okay. They need to be so they own what they did. We have to pause, bring people up to speed, and go forward together. We cannot push forward while others hold us back, or are unaware the full extent of the significance of their actions. It's the pausing that give us the moment of clarity, vulnerability, and space to arrive at a collective truth. Repairing harm is part of sustaining community. Justice is for community. Truth is for community. Community requires a shared set of norms, beliefs, reality, etc.


Apologies serve two purposes - they are for those who caused the harm to take ownership of that harm, and they are for the validation of those who were harmed. We cannot move forward with the acknowledgement. People have to know what they did. They need to recognize how it hurt other people and the implications of it. There has to be gravity to it. The cost must be known. It's seeing how the harm permeates that people can fully grasp the full extent as to what their words or actions meant. It's zooming out and seeing the biggest picture instead of being limited to the minute details that are readily visible. It has to be an ownership of what part was played in a larger saga.

Then, and only then can people find the things needed to bed one or communicated to encompass all that has occurred. The specificity that follows is crucial. It's an affirmative apology that is decisive. There is no "ifs" and "no excuses" to minimize. A genuine apology lets people relish in the truth of what has been done. I'm sorry I did .... and that it made you ... or feel ... That communication of what what done and how it changed someone else is pivotal. It says that one understands meaningfully all that has transpired. Then there's the vow to change words or behavior. It's that commitment to now knowing better and definitively doing better that adds authenticity to an apology. Apologies with changed behavior are nominal lip-service. It's because one knows the harm that been caused that they will be intentional in acting in better, more considerate, and honorific ways.

Avoiding asking for apology leaves us with the burden of hurt which needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the one that caused it. It's not our jobs to make people feel better about the harm they caused us. Sometimes people have no clue they hurt us, and while we shouldn't have to do the emotional labor of helping them recognize they wronged us, sometimes we have to. Asking for an apology is asking for what we need. We should not ask for apologies if we are unwilling to accept them. If others offer us genuine apologies that honor the impact they had, names specifically what they are apologizing for, and vows to make change, and we are committed to disregarding them, then we don't want an apology we want vengeance. Apologies only work if we are willing to accept, and we can only heal if we intend to do so. Let me say that again, if we have no plans to heal, or we want to hold on to whatever we're feeling, we should not ask for an apology because we're looking for revenge not resolution. If we get power from holding things over others, we find pain and hurt familiarly comforting, or we have grown fond a grudge, then apologies are not for us. Asking for them in that state is just plain wrong, and ill-intentioned. 


Forgiveness is a selfish act of self-preservation. Forgiving let's us let go and unburden ourselves from the harm of others AND how we were harmed. Self-forgiveness is a powerful act of self-love. We need to apologize to ourselves for what happened to us. We have to say sorry for the things that hurt us. We have to reconcile with ourselves for how we feel. Those bystander apologetics are so odd, as if we are secondary characters in our life stories, but at times we have felt that way. Even more prominent is forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we have made, the things we have said/done and regretted, but most of all the people we have caused harm to along the way.

So many times we never get an apology from those who have forsaken us but we can create closure or without them if we forgive ourselves. It's all the cringeworthy moments where we were embarrassed, the times where we were awkward or anxious, the times we misspoke or didn't say what we meant to. It's those instances where we have been rude, mean, or angry. It's acknowledging the darkness that sometimes shows up. It's being okay with being imperfect. It's taking responsibility for failures. It's for being complacent, for being slothful, and for not always being our best. It's for everything and it's for nothing. It's for us, and us alone. No matter what we get to forgive ourselves. Give yourself some grace. We are forgiven.


We are not owed forgiveness. Forgiveness does not automatically guarantee a return invitation. Forgiveness does not equate to welcoming back into the fold. We get to forgive people, if we are able and choose to do so, and even in doing so are not obligated to reconstruct a relationship thereafter. We can forgive people and send them on their way. We get to give and revoke access to us. We are not obligated to maintain relationships with people who have caused us harm. We may have received what we need to address the harm but the relationship may be fundamentally different, or we may not want to pursue it in any way, shape, or form. We don't have to. We should not be forced to.

Relationships born out of obligation are more duty than desire. We have to respect when people want to distance themselves from us. Why would we want to be in relationship to people who are not interested in being in relationship to us? Those are moments where everyone gets to be set free. Relationships where trust is constantly being made to be earned can go from reasonable to futile quickly. If the cycle is endless then again the goal is not reconciliation but humiliation, and that is totally toxic. If nothing is ever good enough after harm was made, acknowledged, and behavior altered - then the perfection is a fa├žade. People deserve truth, and opportunity. If we cannot give opportunity, and hold ourselves accountable to it, then it's best to part ways. Cycles of accountability reoccur. X

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