January 23, 2013 Chris Elliott is at it Again: denying personal responsibility.
Apparently I am a thief. This is news to me, but according to a person whom I have never met has declared me to be one. It’s also on the internet so it must be true. Rather than get into a semantic debate on what theft is which would be interesting only to law nerds, lets talk about mistakes. We’re human, you, me, Mr. Elliott, we are all human. That means we all make mistakes. For example, while driving to work today, I accidentally drifted off the side of the road. I was listening to NPR and far too into the discussion of the immigration problem and I blanked on what I should have been doing. The car and myself are fine but it was still a mistake.
Right behind making mistakes is paying for them. I pay for my mistakes, I’ve paid for quite a few. People mock me for my marginal writing and spelling errors and I feel ashamed. What I don’t do is blame other people or try and avoid responsibility for those mistakes. It then becomes the other person’s choice to accept that I made a mistake or not.
Most of you loyal readers have been reading about my trip to Myanmar. This trip was built on the back of an obscene mistake fare on the part of Korean Airlines (KE). KE wanted to cancel all of the tickets and in fact did so, but the US government said we will fine any airline that voids a “mistake fare.” Now, in Mr. Elliott’s ethical universe taking advantage of a mistake fare is stealing. If KE wanted to avoid issuing those tickets in the first place they could have. But they chose to use a system with minimal safeguards in pursuit of profit. It is that system that allowed these tickets to be issued. It is the same for all the airlines, they made their choice and they wanted to avoid responsibility for those choices. Umm no.
If the airlines want to be able to avoid responsibility for their mistakes then they should play by the same rules that ticket buyers do a 24 hr cancellation policy for both the passenger and the airline. But even after the twenty four hours I still would have been ok with giving up at least my ticket. I grew up Catholic, for me forgiveness is available to anyone for anything. The catch is we all have to ask. We (the royal we) have to admit what we did was wrong, be sorry for it, and ask to be forgiven for it. Now if you follow those three steps (most don’t) you’ll find yourself humbled before the other person. If KE had called me and said “we screwed up” and “what can we do to make this right?” I would have given up my ticket. I didn’t want to go to Myanmar. I would have settled on a coach ticket to New Zealand or someplace else I wanted to go.
The abdication of personal responsibility is the problem here. While two wrongs, or at least one wrong and one somewhat questionable choice do not make a right, it is fundamentally not right to allow companies, groups and individuals to avoid responsibility for their actions just because of an honest mistake that happened because of lax safeguards they set up.