A lot has been tossed around lately regarding this word. For me it has been used at my work and in my government. But, do any of these people actually know the meaning of this word. The Webster definition is, “the quality or state of being accountable; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”. It’s a bit ironic that the example Webster’s gives is, “public officials lacking accountability”. But first the misuse of this word at work…
At work they talk a good game saying how we need to hold each other accountable for our performance or lack of performance. But I’ve learned that to truly hold someone accountable you need a certain amount of authority over them. As with the public officials, if they’re lacking accountability we vote them out of office or if it’s real bad they can be recalled or impeached. At work you can hold your peers accountable only with the support of their direct manager. The issue comes in (as with my work) when that manager lacks the courage to address the lack of accountability. Then you are unable to hold your peer accountable due to your lack of authority over them. Where I work when someone isn’t doing what they’re supposed to do upper management just takes that accountability away from them and gives it to someone else. That person is left to pick up the pieces or just do nothing and wait until it is taken away from them and given to another. Eventually the task lands on someone with a good job ethic that does the task because their core being won’t let them do otherwise.
The same is true in politics except bad leaders depend on the apathy of the ones being led. We think, “That’s not right but who am I to complain. I’m only one voice belonging to a faceless person in the crowd”. They lack accountability because we lack the initiative to join together and hold them accountable. The voices of many faceless people can be an overpowering force with authority to hold the highest politician accountable.
We, as a people and individuals, need to be held accountable as well. While we can blame all the country’s problems on the politicians we are the ones who elected them, we are the ones that got into debt and then don’t like it, we are the ones that don’t stand up against injustice, we are the ones that bought homes we couldn’t afford and so on and so on.
In the end true accountability resides within each one of us. If we hold ourselves accountable for our actions things wouldn’t be as bad as they are. People wouldn’t live above their means, they would be honest with their situation and not get discouraged but determined to change it for the better and we would be nicer to each other. After all, when all is said and done, we are accountable only to God. And He will ask for that account.