“No one is willing to acknowledge a fault in himself when a more agreeable motive can be found for the estrangement of his acquaintances” – Mark Twain
It’s as natural as existence itself, the need, the urge, the inclination to deflect blame. “It’s not may fault.” We’ve all done it. We’ve all been there.
I suspect that part of our acute preference to deflect blame is our acute awareness of our own failings. We are quite self-centered, self-interested, and self-aggrandizing. We are broken. We fail and fail and fail … but we don’t like to admit it.
Earlier today, video of a round-table discussion amongst outgoing politicians started popping up on the internet. In it, a Democratic lame-duck representative (Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire) apparently blamed special interest money, in particular Chinese influence over American politics, for her departure. Ummm, darlin’, in a word, “no.” The Chinese did not force you to pass a wildly unpopular health care reform bill; the Chinese did not force you to run trillion dollar deficits; the Chinese did not force you to stack bills with pork; the Chinese did not allow lobbyists to write bills that politicians refuse to even read before voting. This is YOUR fault. YOU did all of these things and the American people voted you out of office for it.
Before we pile on too hard though, we must remember our own failings, our own deflection of blame, our own inability to cope with our faults. For the Christian, this issue cuts right to the heart of our religion.
In order to become a Christian, one must first believe in Christ Jesus, and then repent. Exactly how you go about framing that repentance is something I’ll leave between you and God. Various sects have various mandates. The fundamental is a recognition of your own failures as a human, your own sin, your own inability to live a perfect life – and a contrite desire before God to live the rest of your life in accordance with His will.
It would seem the easiest of all things. The Bible has clearly laid out that all of us, every last one, are guilty of moral failings. No need to feel singled out about your shortcomings – you’ve got plenty of company. And yet, somehow, we seem more content to keep up facades. It is an odd plight.
We note that, for the Christian, there is no place to go without this fundamental step. Without an ability to simply say “I’ve failed, I’m sorry, I want to get it right” there just isn’t anything else to discuss. (There’s not much else to discuss anyway – God has made clear that transforming our lives is His responsibility, once we’ve come to Him.)
I suspect there are parallels in the political world as well. Carol Shea-Porter thinks that special interest influence, particularly Chinese influence, is to blame for what ails us. We hear countless talking points about “the extreme elements” of either party causing all the problems. We hear that we must get the corporate money out of politics. We hear nothing from the politicians other than “it’s everybody’s fault but ours.”
Wrong, guys. It is YOUR fault, and our fault for electing you. If you weren’t for sale, nobody would be buying. If you hadn’t constructed a government philosophy that allows the legislature to manipulate everybody’s work, business, and freedom, then nobody would bribe you to turn the people in this direction or that.
I suppose that there will be no fundamental change in our government problems until those who govern come to grips with the painful reality that they are the problem and not the solution. Until we get there, we may not have much else to talk about.
So let us each consider ourselves, and the things that are actually our fault – but we have blamed others, or circumstances, or you-name-it. And let us thereby lead through example. Perhaps the rest will follow.