Blame

So, it's absolutely clear: it's not my fault, so it must be somebody else's fault! They should do something about it! 

I find it fascinating and disturbing how the whole world seems to point the finger at anyone and everything else for all and any problems, but almost never is finger pointed at oneself. Why is that?

In what way does blaming help? Well, it doesn't solve any problems, so that can't be the reason. Is it because we have a problem accepting responsibility? Or perhaps because we feel powerless in a situation? Perhaps because we feel guilty when we know that we've screwed up? Is it when we have unpleasant feelings and look for an external cause as the source of our feelings? When our situation seems bad to us, do we look for the external cause(s) of that situation? 

The range of the ubiquitous "them" to which we assign blame appears almost endless and includes our partners, our children, our parents, our teachers, our representatives, our bosses, our leaders, the weather, the location, etc. etc. And what changes thanks to that blame? Not much externally, but internally?

To me, it's the most toxic and counterproductive act any of us can make. Depending on the level we are looking at, the consequences are huge. Look at all the wars where, as Dylan puts it, the killing takes place with God on our side. God our side means we are in the right and therefore justified in anything and everything we then do to others.

There is a need to be right, apparently, even if we are wrong. And to that end, we justify almost every brutal act humans can perform. It shows itself most obviously in the media, where nationalists blame anybody who was born elsewhere or has a different colour for all the woes that beset a country. We blame our politicians for not sorting out our personal problems with their rules and regulations. We blame men for all the problems that women face, we blame women for all the problems men see. Whatever happens, it's somebody else's fault I recall telling a male human rights lawyer that I thought what he did was fantastic, but that the minority he forgets to help, are the most oppressed group of all: women! 

Blame means avoiding responsibility. There is a difference in looking at a situation and saying: ok, this is the situation, how do we resolve it? And looking at the same situation and saying: ok, who's fault is it? The first sees a problem looking for a solution, the second focusses on assigning the problem to a guilty person. 

So, if I screw up, do I look for an escape and blame someone or do I take responsibility and look for a solution, which may also include my acceptance that the screw up is down to me, as much as the solution.

I recall coming home one afternoon and my stepson aged about 12, was standing next to a pot with dried reeds. He had a lighter in his hand and the reeds were burning and shooting sparks all over the living room. He's immediate reaction to our arrival was. "it's not my fault!" The blatancy of that statement just made us laugh. The situation could easily have escalated if we hadn't arrived, so no real harm done, but it demonstrates our wish not to take personal responsibility. In fact it's the reason why politicians exist: they are the ones who claim to be the problem solvers and we gladly hand over personal responsibility to them. It means we are not to blame.

The reality however unpleasant, is that we have to take personal responsibility. It's the only way we can solve our personal problems. Of course that opens another can of worms: how do we distinguish between our real problems and our imagined problems?

Being hungry and having nothing to eat is a real personal problem; being hungry and able to choose what we will eat is not a problem. Having a leaky roof over your head is a personal problem; wondering where to go on holiday is not a problem. Having to sell your body to stay alive is a personal problem; wondering which prostitute to choose is not a problem. I'm sure you can make your own list.

In my experience, taking personal responsibility for my life and my actions has, in fact, brought me a great deal of freedom and clarity. It enables me to distinguish between real problems and imagined problems. It empowers me to live my life as a human being together with others. 

I get very incensed by the ridiculous games that get played by politicians everywhere, but I have to recognise that they were voted in by a majority of the voters, who believe them when thy say that they can solve your problems. They can't and never have.  I saw some graffiti on a part of the wall around Windsor Castle in the late 60's and it read:"Whoever you vote for, the Politicians get in". It's stuck with me.

So, I have to take responsibility for myself and give up blaming others - it's the only way to get anything done!

 

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