One of my Facebook friends posted one of those inspirational motto thingies this morning, and one of the lines was about making changes not excuses.  The odd little idea popped into my head that what we need today is more people willing to excuse others.  I also thought maybe we need to learn to distinguish between excuses, reasons, and explanations better.  

As I often do, I went to the dictionary to make sure I wasn't imbuing the word "excuse" with some connotative subtlety it doesn't really mean.  The definitions I found online were  "attempt to lessen the blame attached to a fault or offense" and "a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense,"  "to make apology for," "to forgive entirely or disregard as of trivial import," "to grant exemption from or release to," "to allow leave," and "to serve as an excuse for."  Among the synonyms were "pardon," " forgive," " justify,"  "absolve," " remit", and "condone."
 Merriam-Webster   - The Free Dictionary  

Ah, there it is!  "Forgive."  We excuse wounded veterans for not being able to get work. Or we give employers incentives to hire them, give them retraining.   I am not in disagreement with this.  Pretty much everyone else we tell "no excuses, get a job."  Yet many of them have legitimate reasons they are unable to obtain work: chronic debilitating diseases, mental handicaps, mental illnesses which interfere with the ability to perform up to corporate standards.  Some of these could indeed work, if certain modifications in expectations were made.  These things need no excuses from the persons with these reasons. We are blaming people for things over which they have no control.   Yet we often ask them to defend themselves for these conditions that result from chance, not choice. 

The changes required are changes in our social expectations.  We cannot expect a brain damaged person to work as fast, or learn as fast as persons with normal abilities.  We cannot expect someone with a debilitating chronic illness to put in as many hours, or show up every day.  

Some employers do make exceptions.  They are to be commended.  There just are not enough employers willing to take the time to fit these people into their structure.  

Another category of people are those who cannot obtain a job through decisions or judgments made by employers.   We can pretend that discrimination does not exist, yet the statistical evidence is that it does occur in hiring, promotions, and raises.  Is it any wonder that "liberal arts" have been disparaged?  The disparagement makes it easier for some of  us to live in denial.

It strikes me as odd that this is the case in what is also often referred to by those calling for "no excuses" as a "Christian nation."  Christ spoke often of forgiveness, charity, care for the poor.  How can someone with Christian values not possess the wilingness to excuse others for that which they cannot control?
 


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