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Someone to Blame

posted Oct 10, 2016, 2:16 PM by Kelly Griffin
A “Peanuts” cartoon shows Peppermint Patty telling Charlie Brown, “Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school and I got sent to the principal’s office. It was your fault.” Charlie Brown responds, “How could it be my fault?” She answers, “You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me.”

I can’t help but wonder if casting blame like that isn’t at the heart of much of the chaos we are witnessing in our society. Are we are seeking excuses for bad behavior rather than root causes? Isn’t it always easier to blame someone else than take personal responsibility?

Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, UK, suggests that as professional therapy has become a way of life in our culture, people have increasingly defined themselves as victims who have suffered at the hands of parents, teachers, employers, the government or any other ready blameworthy entity.

Leonard Bernstein put it to music in West Side Story when the gang sings: “Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke, / You gotta understand, / It's just our bringin' up-ke / That gets us out of hand. / Our mothers all are junkies, / Our fathers all are drunks. / Golly Moses, natcherly we're punks! / Gee, Officer Krupke, we're very upset; / We never had the love that ev'ry child oughta get. / We ain't no delinquents, / We're misunderstood. / Deep down inside us there is good!”

We’d all like to pin the blame on someone else for society’s ills. It’s been said, “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” But, of course, every snowflake contributes.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archepelago mused, “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds . . . we could just destroy them.” Then he continues, “But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart.” Better to blame someone else and destroy them?!

Society’s ills will not diminish until we all take the hard inward look exemplified by the celebrated British journalist G. K. Chesterton, who, when asked by the London Times for an article identifying the problem with the world, responded with a postcard: “I am.”

We need to look inward before casting about outwardly for someone to blame. That’s critical to healing the societal ills. But it’s far more critical for another reason.

God reminds us in Romans 14:12, “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” This is the ultimate in personal responsibility – to answer to one’s Creator – no excuses allowed. Daniel Webster knew. When asked, “What is the greatest thought that can occupy a man’s mind?” he replied, “His accountability to God.”

Jesus agreed: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt 12:36).

That’s when we’d all like an advocate like the mother at a teacher conference who said, “My son Paul is a very sensitive boy.” The teacher replied, “Yes, I’ve noticed. How can I help?” Mom replied, “Well, if Paul misbehaves, please spank the boy next to him!”

The good news of Jesus Christ is we have such an advocate -- one who has paid the price for the failures of our hearts. So the Apostle John says, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1b). He’s the Savior we all need – not someone to blame, but someone who took the blame.

But the responsibility to accept His advocacy is mine alone.

Dave McNeff is Pastor of Eaton Congregational Church (Conservative Congregational Christian Conference),

Published in The Tribune on October 1, 2016.