We live in a blame culture. If we fail our exams, it’s the fault of the teacher – or it could be the environment we grew up in, or the school. If we trip over a jutting flagstone, then it’s the fault of the Council and we reach for the solicitor’s telephone number. If we have a bad day at work then of course it’s the fault of our Boss – or the customer.
The people we love to hate are politicians. We get more passionate, more animated about them than perhaps anything or anyone else. I have read pieces in the press and posts on social networking sites recently blaming politicians for all of the following:
The economy; the current recession; the education system; the health service; the UK’s place in the world; the war in Afghanistan; the state of the roads; the environment; unemployment; lack of ambition amongst young people; high teenage pregnancy rates; depression; lack of hope.
If all the above were true, then we would be forced to admire our politicians for their amazing ability to involve themselves on so many fronts – and in having so much influence.
If we didn’t blame the political classes, then we could blame our parents. They made us what we are. If they didn’t, then it is God’s fault. It must be someone’s fault. If it’s someone else’s fault, then it absolves us of any requirement to do something about the situation ourselves. It’s much easier to moan than to act.
The corollary of this is a growing sense of powerlessness amongst people. The feeling that we are trapped by circumstances – that whatever we do, the situation will remain insoluble. The blame game enables us to remain on the sideline as spectators rather than as participants. If ‘things’ happen to us; if we are ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’ people; if we accept the theory of ‘karma’; if we are just pawns on the chessboard of life and others are the players, then the hope that we have (as agents of free will) begins to extinguish.
Even if we are victims of circumstance, of how others treat us, of misfortune, inequality or disability – the way in which we react to these events defines our feeling of self-worth. We often confuse what we do with who we are. No outside event, perception or label can affect the core value of who we are. What we do and what happens to us on a daily basis can change the way we feel – but does not increase or reduce our essential worth as human beings. You may have a good or a bad day but your stock as a unique individual does not rise or fall. Just the way you feel. And feeling is behaviour. Behaviour is not who you are.
Similarly, blaming someone else for the world’s ills may make you feel better, temporarily. But it does not change your value for the better or worse. Your value is not enhanced because someone else is being castigated. Better to decide what it is you can do to improve the situation, locally, personally, incrementally. If it is someone else’s fault there there is no point. However, doing something yourself may inspire others to do the same.
Taking responsibility for your actions, life and the things that go on around you is not the same thing as blaming yourself. Everything that happens provides some extra useful learning – and you grow as a result of it. How many redundancies lead to new opportunities? How many failed businesses lead to successful ones later? How many failed relationships lead to a resolve to have successful ones next?
Wouldn’t it be interesting if there was no-one to blame? Stuff happens. We learn from it. We use it as fuel for the next pot roast. Blame becomes an outdated concept. As does bitterness, regret, what might have beens, even failure. What might it be like to start each day with a clean slate – with infinite possibilities and no back catalogue?
So who’s to blame. Not them. And not you either..