We seem to learn early in life how to blame others for things we have done. It feels good. It shifts the consequences away from us and toward someone else. A young man once visited our home and when my father asked who left the back door open promptly replied, “I didn’t do it.” He fit right in. With four kids, there was always someone around to blame. In fact when the kids left home, my husband and I joked about having fewer places to assign blame.
But as adults, dealing with reality, we stop joking and learn to acknowledge when we have made a mistake. One of the key tenets in 12 step programs is a “fearless moral inventory” of places we have erred. After admitting our wrongs to God and another person, the programs ask us to make amends to those harmed as long as to do so wouldn’t create more problems.
Why “fearless.” I think because we can face up to our shortcomings like adults, not children. Part of maturing, I think, is learning to take responsibility when it is ours to take. At the moment in the public sphere we are watching an explosion of blame. Adults all around seem unwilling to admit any faults of their own. Instead, they search ceaselessly around for the REAL culprit. Not limited to any political point of view, this approach keeps us avoiding dealing with real issues.
Because, at the end of the day, no matter who left the door open, someone needs to close it.