It's always easier to blame the failures of others when something goes wrong. If it's everyone else's fault, then you're off the hook. You can walk away, scot-free, relieved of the burden of responsibility.
Better still, you can adopt a morally elevated stance of reproach and disappointment, wagging a sorrowful finger at all the stupid people who didn't listen and didn't do what they were told and are therefore to blame for the dreadful mess we're in today.
This is exactly what our political leaders are doing now.
Is it their fault that we find ourselves stuck in yet another life-destroying, livelihood-wrecking, soul-crushing lockdown?
Not a bit of it.
It's our fault, not theirs. Didn't they tell us, time and time again, what would happen if we didn't follow the rules they had laid down for us?
And now look. We've blown it.
We have let ourselves down. We have let Arlene and Michelle down, and poor Robin Swann.
Most of all, we have let down the NHS, the closest thing we have to a state religion, with our reckless, selfish refusal to behave ourselves.
"We are in a very bad place, and it's a failure of society as a whole that we have had to introduce these restrictions in a draconian way," said Arlene Foster, before Christmas.
Even small business leaders and representatives of the retail industry, who are witnessing the decimation of vast swathes of their sectors, and the associated misery, joblessness and despair which will inevitably follow, are on board with the blame-the-public narrative.
Here's Glyn Roberts of Retail NI: "It is profoundly disappointing that the NI Executive had to take this course of action because of non-compliance of individuals and households with the Covid-19 regulations."
Roger Pollen from the Federation of Small Businesses cited "flagrant breaches" of the rules, and claimed that his members are paying the "inevitable price... for all of us failing to do what we should have done".
But where is the proof that the current situation is primarily due to widespread public misbehaviour and flouting of the regulations?
I know it is risky to pose such an awkward question in these feverish, despotic days, when truth counts for so little, and fear counts for so much. But it needs to be asked.
And here's the answer. The supposed causal link between the spread of the virus, the pressure on hospitals, and the apparent widespread public disregard of the mitigation measures is no more than an unproven assumption. There is no evidence for it.
Instead of offloading their failures on to a broke, weary, demoralised and - in many cases - very frightened populace, politicians should have the guts and the honesty to take a long hard look in the mirror. They are the ones who call the shots, after all.
And to my mind it is their own ill-judged decisions - compounded by decades of under-funding the health service - and not our alleged bad behaviour, which have brought us to this midwinter pit of despair.
There is mounting evidence, scientifically verifiable, that lockdowns simply do not work. They are not effective in controlling the virus in society, unless you weld everyone into their own homes indefinitely, and then you won't have a society any more. Which would rather defeat the purpose.
Yet we know, for sure, that lockdowns cause catastrophic, life-changing harms, most especially to children, and to the poorest and most vulnerable. This appears to count for shockingly little with our leaders, their advisers, and those in Pravda-leaning parts of the media who see their role as fanatical defenders of the official government narrative.
Rather than changing course, the response to the failure of previous lockdowns has been to impose harder ones, with increased police enforcement.
"The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." This popular saying is usually misattributed to Albert Einstein. We don't actually know who said it first. Nonetheless, it's true.
An even simpler adage: if you're in a hole, don't keep digging.
We associate the start of a new year with new beginnings. A sense of forward momentum and purpose, when we ditch the bad habits of the old year and seek out fresh possibilities for the future.
My hope for 2021 is that people reclaim their sense of agency, and take full charge of their own lives once more, free of state-sponsored fear, authoritarian diktat and psychological coercion.
Above all, we must start holding political leaders to account again, rather than agreeing to act as passive, shame-faced scapegoats for their dangerous mistakes. The failures of 2020 belong to them, not us.