The wearing of the hairshirt and we are all complicit

Here’s a thing.

This morning, via twitter, an assertion that we are all complicit; we all knew what was going on.

I am sick to the teeth of sentences the key objective of which is to suggest that everything that happened is all our faults. IT IS NOT. In many cases, it cannot possibly be. The Children’s Home in Tuam closed years before I was born.

Collective responsibility is a way of ensuring individual responsibility goes ignored. When Michael Noonan or some other politician pops up and says we all partied we did not. I’m not sitting in an undervalued negative equity apartment I can’t quite afford to pay for because I did not party. Saying we all partied is only a comfort to those who did; it is absolutely no help to those who did not.

When a story like Tuam pops up, there is nothing to be gained by suggesting We Are All Complicit. Maybe half the population wasn’t even alive. How can they be complicit? Oh, let’s conflate it with some other social attrocity – “we permit it to happen”.

This is wrong. This is so wrong, and dishonest. Until we stop this nonsense of forcing collective responsibility, we will never stop things like this happening. Collective responsibility and the hairshirt allows the genuinely responsible to hide behind “We all knew about it, we all tacitly agreed to it”.

We didn’t. But some people made decisions, key operational decisions that are not the result of collective responsibility. Some organisations, likewise. These are the people who need to be taking responsibility; we do not need to be shoving hairshirts onto the population as a whole.