Years ago, our family consisted of two kids, two dogs and a cat. Weekly housekeeping was a ritual every Saturday morning. All four of us humans declared war on household dirt as we scrubbed, mopped, dusted and performed other cleaning chores.
Over time we lost our four-legged pets, who I suspected were the main cause of our household dirt, but alas every week we still seemed to find just as much to clean up. So much for blaming the pets!
Later, when our two children left my wife and I with an empty nest, we assumed there would be less in the way of cleaning, but such was not the case. So much for blaming the kids!
With my wife’s passing, I have now lived in the same house by myself for 14 years and, guess what — the house still seems to get just as dirty as before. I am now forced to admit that the guy I see reflected in the mirror was a big part of the problem all along even though over the years I had blamed the others in the house — both the four-legged and two-legged ones.
Perhaps it is only human nature to place the blame on others.
In the political world, Democrats blame Republicans while Republicans blame Democrats. Legislators blame the president, while the White House blames Congress. Also, the press and politicians have long played the “Blame Game” as each side rarely admits their own mistakes or errors in judgment.
On the world scene, Americans and Russians have long blamed each other. With increasing street violence, we see demonstrators and police often placing the blame entirely on the “other side.” Even when it comes to religion, it becomes very convenient for Christians, Muslims, and Jews to blame the “other faith” for creating the problem.
Locally, in the field of education we see the “Blame Game” being played out with the county commissioners versus the board of education. When dealing with problems in the classroom, teachers, parents, and students are often quick to point the finger away from themselves.
Closer to home, it’s easy for husbands and wives to blame each other and often blame is tossed back and forth between parents and children.
To one degree or another, we ALL play the “Blame Game.” We tend to cast the blame on others for all kinds of problems — big ones such as racism, sexism or violence, or lesser ones like making a mess around the house.
We humans tend to direct blame in a variety of directions, blaming our elected officials (people whom WE have elected), our teachers, our parents, our children, our co-workers, or even God. Sadly, some of us simply blame others in an effort to excuse or elevate ourselves.
Former general and President Dwight Eisenhower maintained that “the search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting exhibitions.”
Owning up to part of the blame is often seen as a weakness, yet does it not require a certain strength of character to admit one’s own error? I admire the football coach who when appropriate places the blame squarely on his own shoulders, admitting, “I just made the wrong decision”.
I’m certainly not suggesting that we beat ourselves to death with personal guilt trips, yet the bottom line is simply this: When we start thinking about who is to blame, let’s not completely overlook the person we see in the mirror.
John P. Jones