Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Turning off the Blame Game

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Turning off the Blame Game

Article excerpt

Since the financial crisis hit, there has been no shortage of one commodity: blame. And what is sometimes called the "Blame Game" has been actively pursued, in spite of the fact that the word "game" is derived from the Old Saxon gaman, meaning fellowship, which makes the phrase an oxymoron. Though it may be an understandable reaction, it has been taken to extremes.

For instance, the NBC Nightly News (Nov. 15), reported that a Brooklyn artist has been painting portraits of various Wall Street executives, as well as those involved in the financial rescue work in Washington, and setting up those canvases on Wall Street. The artist invites the public to vent their frustration, anger, and even hatred for these individuals, by writing comments on the paintings. It's reminiscent of the days when people were put in stocks in the village square to be publicly shamed.

Obviously, there are corrections to be made on many fronts, but the unseen danger in pointing to another and assigning blame to any group - Wall Street executives, lenders, borrowers, or government officials - is that the one doing so immediately takes on the identity of victim. By identifying another as a villain, one unwittingly identifies himself as a victim, for villain and victim are two sides of the same coin. No one benefits from these limiting labels.

There's a higher and more effective course. True fellowship might be the better way to go. Supporting what is right and good in others is a far more effective way to eradicate base, selfish, or egocentric tendencies.

In one biblical example, there was an unscrupulous tax collector named Zacchaeus who, according to Luke's Gospel, was very rich and also quite curious about Jesus. As Jesus approached, Zacchaeus realized that Jesus wouldn't see him for all the crowds. So he climbed a tree in order to get a better view. When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and called him down. Then Jesus told him he would stay at his house that night. The crowd, which didn't have a high view of Zacchaeus, murmured over Jesus' plan to go to a sinner's house. But this encounter with Jesus had an immediate effect on him. …

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