No one makes mistakes

If there is one thing I can teach to make students better writers it is to write in the active voice. Most of you learned about this in 6th or 7th grade, but unless you write for a living, forgot about it long ago.
Here’s a refresher.
Writing in the active voice means sentences have a subject and a verb and sometimes, but not necessarily, an object. Example:
Ed threw the ball.
Ed (the subject) threw (the verb, or action word) the ball (the object).
This style of writing is clean and simple. The reader easily gets the picture.
No so with sentences written in the passive voice. In such sentences, the subject and the object are one in the same. Example:
The ball was thrown.
The subject (the ball) performed an action (was thrown), and the object on which the action was performed is also the ball.
Wait, isn’t the ball the subject?
Exactly. And therein lies the problem.
Now, normally, except for the slight confusion and weak verb (threw is much stronger than was thrown), which makes for weak writing, this is no big deal.
Except when the passive voice is used with a purpose. A purpose not necessarily noble.
Example: Ed would rather write, “The ball was thrown and smashed a window” (passive voice) than, “Ed threw the ball and smashed the window” (active voice). Why take the blame yourself when you can just blame the ball?
Here’s another example, and it’s a classic: Mistakes were made.
This is the language of government, typically used when acknowledging mistakes may be necessary, but revealing who made them may be, well, awkward. Especially if it’s you.
So, instead of writing, “I made mistakes,” you just write, “Mistakes were made.”
Kind of like those pesky mistakes made the mistakes themselves.
This all came to mind, yet again, when I read the other day, “Vaccines are not getting into the arms of people.”
Notice how no one is at fault, except perhaps the vaccines themselves. They aren’t getting into the arms of people. Shame on them.
Why don’t the folks in charge just tell us the truth why vaccines are not getting into the arms of people?
After all, they know darned well why.
Mistakes were made.

Ed Ackerman