This is for the misfits

The other day I received an email. It was all of two sentences long, a brief heads up about some paperwork that was on the way.

But the entirety of the email went on for days. There was the signature, of course. And below that enough contact information that this person was in no danger of getting lost. Ever.

What got me, though, was the warning.

It said, in part, “The information contained in and transmitted with or attached to this email is confidential and intended for the exclusive and confidential use of the intended recipients only. Any dissemination, distribution, copying or use of or reliance upon the information contained in or transmitted with or attached to this email by anyone other than the intended recipients is unauthorized.”


Whatever happened to that old-fashioned concept of personal responsibility? Whereby if I am stupid enough to mistakenly send, lose, or otherwise misplace some confidential information, the onus is on me.

It’s my bad. Not your bad!

Why is it that when something inadvertently crosses my path, it is my responsibility to determine that, rather than simply being lucky, I am the victim of some cosmic screw-up, and I must, must, must have the good sense to realize my misfortune before I do something dumb perfectly sensible like take advantage of the situation?

Whatever happened to finders keepers, losers weepers?

So, with that in mind, this is for the misfits. The mischievous miscreants who courageously accept blame when the fault is theirs, but who bridle at the rampant proclivity of all those who casually kick the blame bucket down the road.

It has become an epidemic.

Rather than accept the fact that we may have made a mistake, whether of minor or major proportions, we casually point our finger elsewhere. It couldn’t possibly be my fault. Through some error of your own you negligently put me in a position where it was possible for me to … fill in the malady of your choice.

Rather than help one another through difficult times, we run in the other direction for fear of being tainted with our neighbor’s misfortune.

Rather than quiet self-reflection into what we may have done wrong and how we might fix it, we loudly shout our indignation at perceived insults from others.

I would blame it all on Fox News except that, … well, there I go again.

And there’s the rub. None of us are immune.

The remedy is to be mindful of, and ever vigilant against, falling into the blame game. Except that it’s hard since not taking the blame has become almost a reflexive habit.

A little humility is called for, which isn’t a bad virtue in any event. Patience, too. And optimism doesn’t hurt, either. Expecting the best in others instead of the worst.

These are good traits. Habits to practice on a daily basis.

I suppose there’s a place for confidentiality, especially with very personal and private information. But isn’t it better to ask forgiveness, and not to threaten legal action at the slightest provocation?

Leo Babauta over at the Zen Habits blog goes so far as to uncopyright his work. If others take all or part of it and use it for their own purposes, he doesn’t see it as stealing. He prefers to think of it as sharing.

It’s an interesting thought. I waive my rights and absolve you of all penalties.

Of course, he would prefer attribution. And it would be nicer if you were to buy his books. But if not, no worries.

There’s still the karma thing. If you don’t do unto others as you would prefer them to do unto you, then there very well could be some mad mojo coming your way.

Bad karma has a habit of showing up when you least expect it, and at the most inconvenient and awkward times.

Cosmic justice is what an old professor of mine used to call it.

More colloquially, what goes around comes around.

If you want to be a misfit and not play the blame game, it’s the only revenge available.

So, that said, this blog is not for the exclusive and confidential use of the intended recipient. Share it with your friends and family. Share it with those who you think could use a bit of this advice. Share it wherever and with whomever you like.

Of course, an attribution would be nice. But, hey, it isn’t necessary. All we really want to do is get this slow stuff out there!


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