Within and WithoutJournalists jump into the who, what, when, where, why, and how of what’s going on. They get into the nitty gritty and organize the details. Creative writers, by great contrast, sit back and watch the big picture.

I’m not sure if the news lately is especially tragic or if, when compared to the beauty of the holiday spirit exhibited across multi-religions all over the world, the bad news looks exceptionally worse simply by comparison.

Regardless, the discrepancy between the good and the bad is obvious, and so is one key factor practiced on the side of good news that is twisted by purveyors of bad. That is the practice of accountability.

What I’m talking about is this: One the side of good, news program after news program has shown in the last few days the stories of people finding a need and filling it, usually in the name of the holidays at hand. People are reaching out to one another, serving dinner to the poor, opening doors to foster children, gathering supplies, building homes, donating, giving, sharing. Kids, even, have entered the mix, organizing the gathering of toys to give to those less fortunate than they are, and singing in hospitals to cheer patients receiving treatments over the holidays. In these feel-good stories, I see self-accountability; I see people who know they can make a difference reaching inside themselves for something greater to give.

On the side of the negative news stories, I see blame, finger pointing, and “I see what’s wrong with you, not me.” This outward approach is not working; it’s not effecting change. That’s because the practice of accountability starts within, not without.

There is much hurt and injustice in the world. It’s all right there, easy to see. And none of us is above reproach. We take chances; we mess up. The little kid in all of us wants to put the blame elsewhere, to keep us out of trouble, to keep us in good favor. The little kid in us runs to Mom and says, “My sister hit me.” And Mom, who watched the entire scene play out, says, “Yes. She shouldn’t have done that. But you hit her first, so you’re both in trouble.”

Mea Culpa is Latin for “It’s my fault.” Latin builds the foundation for dozens of Romance languages, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, just to name a few. It’s pervasive. On the flip side, the psychology revolutions in recent history have taught us to stop blaming ourselves for every little thing. Thus, we live in an age when, to acquire balance, we must admit that it’s not all my fault, but it’s not all your fault, either, which leaves us either tossing blame about, which has not worked, or looking for another solution. Perhaps it’s this: While it’s true the world can be cruel, unfair, and the playing field is rarely level, there is also a lot of good in this world, and it resides inside each of us. We have only to look within, and let it out.

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Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.

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