Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Whose Fault Is It? Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Whose Fault Is It? Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

Most people, if they thought about it, would prefer to exchange the time spent figuring out who was to blame in some conflict for the same amount of time spent more constructively. At times neither party is clearly at fault. Sometimes, thinking about it from all sides, trying to be objective, we think the fault has to lie with the other person. Mental wrestlings, ruminations, go on and on, and in the process a friendship may be lost or an acquaintance may become someone we'd prefer to avoid. Accusations rarely help. Silent evasions can be even worse. Brushing the problem aside and forgetting about it isn't healthy.

I often think of a little boy in one of my Sunday School classes. When we were all reciting the Ten Commandments and got to the ninth one, I heard him saying, "Thou shalt not bear fault witness against thy neighbour" (see Exodus 20:16). Of course, the correct word is false, not fault. And yet, how appropriate the substitution of that word fault can be here, when we find our own selves finding fault with our neighbor.

Recently, through a misunderstanding I had with a friend, I blamed her and she blamed me for bungling a lunch date. Rumination over its being "her fault" had made me feel angry and disappointed. But I shouted an order to myself: "Stop it!" And I began to pray. My prayer was that I not break that Ninth Commandment; I must not bear false-or fault-witness against my friend. Neither should I blame myself. What had happened did not need to be analyzed. It needed to be seen as an opportunity to overcome anything that might disturb the good relations God ordains between us, His children. I knew I must see my friend as God's child, innocent and loving, as I perceived myself to be. I grew to feel completely at peace, and when we got together we were two friends, laughing at a silly mix-up. We have maintained a very happy friendship ever since. A simple illustration perhaps, but to me it serves as an example of how we can be either captives or captains of the way we see others. We can know that faulting our neighbor does not measure up to recognizing the way God expresses perfection in each of us. …

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