• 82°

It’s time to stop making excuses; own up to it

I was watching the movie “A Bridge Too Far” about Operation Market Garden, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s failed plan to enter Germany through Holland in World War II.

The whole plan was a colossal failure because of poor planning and bad intelligence (or was it intelligence that was ignored?). But I’m not writing to criticize Montgomery or go over an already dissected plan. Actually, it was a scene near the end of the movie that got me to thinking.

One of the movie’s final scenes has four of the film’s main characters (all generals) standing on the observation area of a building going over why the mission failed.

One blamed fog over England that prevented paratroopers from flying over the English Channel with reinforcements. Another blamed poor communications. Another blamed the narrow road his infantry and armor had to travel a failed attempt to help paratroopers under siege in the Dutch city of Arnhem.

None of them gave the real reason —the plan was flawed and didn’t work.

We’re all guilty at one time or another of making excuses to avoid facing the truth and admitting that we just messed up. Whether it’s something as minor as forgetting to stop in the way home from work to stop at the store and get that bottle of vinegar for the salad, or something more serious as forgetting to deposit that big refund check to cover a recent purchase.

When you work as a reporter, you run into the excuse mill a lot, whether it’s a city or county department head trying to explain why that street or road, or drainage ditch, hasn’t been cleaned by delivering a litany of reasons why it wasn’t done when it should have been.

You can get the same response from bureaucrats at the federal and state level where delivering excuses mixed with double-talk is an art form.

People in sports are really bad about the excuses game. We’ve all heard many a coach give a list of excuses like their quarterback or pitcher “wasn’t himself today,” or the defensive or offensive line “was sluggish today.” And the worst excuse of all — “They just wanted it more than we did.” There ought to be a phrase in every coach’s contract that says they are summarily fired for giving that line of excuse.

One example of someone admitting they got beat (with no excuses) came from a football player I can’t stand — Johnny Manziel after his last game, a 35-10 whipping in Tiger Stadium: “We got kicked in the mouth.” Pure and simple and to the point; no excuses, we lost.

Johnny Football and the other exceptions aside, the practice of giving excuses instead of telling the truth is a widespread epidemic that really should stop.

I think it’s time in this day and age that we — especially the government level — stop the practice of dancing and tell the truth. Accept responsibility for our actions and take the consequences and move on.

John Surratt is a reporter for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John