Is it time to accept some responsibility for our own behaviour?

As we emerge from the 2008 Great Recession, is it time to reflect on the broader values and behaviours that contributed to the hubris and subsequent crash?

Much of the focus to date has been on blaming others and in particular bank bashing. We have cheered from the sidelines or simply remained silent over attempts at regulating and curbing remuneration for bankers and CEOs. The aggrieved have engaged with the various inquiries into the conduct of banks and other financial institutions.

This all underpins our desire to blame someone else.

It continues, like the recent call by ResPublica think tank for bankers to be made to swear an oath to fulfil both a moral as well as an economic purpose. Presumably this is envisaged as the equivalent of the oath to which doctors sign up. While the Hippocratic Oath may on the whole work to prevent misconduct in the medical profession, applying it to bankers comes across as our continued belief that we bear no blame.

We implicitly know that legislating for moral or ethical responsibility for bankers will be almost impossible to enforce and will only end up with more clauses in contracts where we confirm we have taken independent advice.

For too long there has been an unspoken assumption that our values are different from those of bankers or CEOs. It is time for us all to take responsibility for borrowing more that we could afford, for believing that getting rich is easy and without risk, for contributing to the hubris.

Only when we accept some responsibility for our own behaviour can we change the values that contributed to the Great Recession.

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