Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Blame Game

Perhaps because we live in something of a litigious society - and no, I'm not going to annotate that statement - often the first question I hear in pressured situations is "WHO IS TO BLAME?"

I detest that question.  My answer, always, is "WHO CARES?"  Sometimes I only think it.

Worse is the quick attempt to divert blame by quickly and carelessly asserting innocence when something happens: "IT'S NOT MY FAULT!"

Don't get me wrong.  When things go wrong, finding out why they went wrong is an important part of ensuring the same thing doesn't happen again.  So it can be important to know who did what and when they did it.

Seeking information to solve a problem is different than playing the Blame Game.  "Why not concentrate on solving the problem," suggests a wise friend, "rather than affixing blame?  After all, blame is simply the focus of a small mind."

We teach our kids to play the game when they're very young so they're adept at it by the time they're teens and experts at it as adults. Consider...

Scenario A
A little boy, seven or eight years old, gets upset with a friend sitting across the bus aisle for saying something mean.  The little boy picks up his backpack and takes a swing at the friend.

The bus driver hears a commotion, glances in the rearview mirror and sees the little boy smacking his friend with the backpack, comes back to dispatch, and writes a discipline notice.  The notice is sent to the little boy's parents.

The boy's mother calls and demands that we expunge her son's record:  "This wasn't his fault.  His friend called him a pig and said he likes to eat slop." 

And the friend, wicked name caller that he is, deserved to be smacked with a full backpack?  A parent actually endorses physical retribution?

Scenario B
Sad for the puppy perpetually locked in her kennel because she doesn't like having snow touch her paws, Son 1 opens the kennel door and lets the puppy wander the house.  When he grabs jeans off the floor in his room, he discovers said puppy left a deposit.  He's annoyed, but not as much as his mother.

"It's not my fault," he offers. 

So the puppy, incapable of opening a door and fearful of the cold snow between her toes, was supposed to poo exactly where?

Scenario C
Married people have an affair. 

The participants in the affair both assert, "It wasn't my fault.  He/she pursued me."

And since they never learned to be responsible for their own actions, they lash those who love them with stinging pain.

Scenario D
A couple divorces, bitter and angry.  Each person, determined that the former spouse's new partner will not get anything, loses the most important thing:  relationships with progeny.

"It's not my fault... not my fault... not my fault...," is their endless refrain.

When everything that matters is lost, who cares who is at fault?

The only occasions I experienced true anger with either of my boys were those occasions when they tried to slink away from their own responsibility in any given situation.  The unintended result of insisting they bear their own responsibility is that neither of them allows others to assign blame to them when it's unwarranted.

I suggest we all revolt. 

Let's each stand up and own our own action and inaction. 

Let's bear our own responsibility so we can focus our energy on solving problems, repairing damage, and forging onward. 

Let's be the change we seek in the world.

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