Thursday, 22 July 2010

The destructive nature of blame

Today I met with Jo Berry, one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. She has a remarkable story and a message that every individual, organisation and nation could benefit from hearing.

In 1984 the IRA planted a bomb in the 'Grand Hotel' in Brighton where delegates, including Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, were assembling for the Tory party conference. Five people were killed. One of them was Sir Anthony Berry, MP and father to Joanna Berry. Jo decided that she did not want this terrible life event to leave her bitter and twisted and she determined to draw meaning from this tragedy.

She decided that as part of her journey she would like to meet the man who planted the bomb that killed her father, Patrick Magee. The story of Jo’s journey and her meeting with Patrick Magee was recorded in the moving award winning BBC documentary ‘Facing the Enemy’. Since their initial three-hour meeting Jo and Pat have worked together for peace.

Jo says “In blaming and dehumanising the enemy, our hearts shut down, we lose some of our own humanity, and we become part of the problem”. In the process of compassion and understanding we can start to end the terrible cycle of violence and retribution.

Jo now dedicates her life to resolving conflict around the world. She has worked with the likes of Archibishop Desmond Tutu on the Forgiveness Project, the All Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues, Combattence for Peace (Isreali/ Palestinian peace group) and has spoken at events such as the Basque conference and the world congress against the death penalty. She also works with offenders, schools, universities and business to bring a message of understanding and teach people the art of conflict resolution and dealing with difficult dialogue.

So what has all of this got to do with you?

Well the message is simple. Blame is not a helpful strategy. If you are blaming others for the things that have happened to you, pointing the finger at colleagues who you feel are responsible for something not working out, disillusioned with customers/partners/funders who are not valuing you or giving you your dues, then you are putting your energies into the wrong areas.

Blame is a destructive force and does not benefit anyone. Instead, seek to understand, see the human being in front of you, really, really listen and then, and only then, choose how you behave.

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