To blame, or not to blame
A week ago a friend’s young boy just seventeen months old tragically drowned. As is so often the case in these situations I heard the questions: “Whose fault is it?” “Who was looking after him?” “Why wasn’t he looked after more carefully?” Ironically these questions came from those not even directly affected by the loss.
Why so often do we first seek out who to blame for bad things that happen? Does it really matter? Does it change anything when we single out the “guilty” party? Unless a law was broken, probably not.
Life is short as this sad incident so accurately reminds us. Do we really need to waste our short time on earth worrying about placing blame? I think a shift of focus is what is needed here. Instead of worrying about who is to blame, we should seek to support and love those who have experienced loss, grief or disappointment.
I once read a story about a man named Feki. He was with a group of men who were heading out to chop down trees for timber to build a fale. The men divided into pairs and headed into the forest. Feki was partnered with the laziest man in the village – everyone knew it.
Every time Feki emerged from the forest with a log the other men would try to bait him into accusing or complaining about his lazy companion. He resisted each time. At the end of the day when the work was done, many of the men were still trying to get Feki to place blame or complain about his partner.
Feki finally silenced them by saying something to the effect of, “God has a record of the work done today.” When we get so caught up in what we think others should have done, how we could do things better, or even complaining about being treated unfairly, we are missing out on living a better and more fulfilling life.
Our life is the only life we will ever have to live. We don’t live our neighbor’s life. We don’t live the lives of our friends or family members. Ours is the only life we can control. Only our choices are ours – no one else’s.
On this past Friday as I listened to spoken and musical words expressed at this sweet little boy’s funeral I reflected on the fact that it was Good Friday – the day we remember Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and death for us. The day we remember all the Savior taught us. To love, to forgive, to repent, to choose right. I looked around at those gathered to celebrate the brief life gone so soon. There were Methodists, Congregationalists, Catholics and Mormons all united by the amazing little life that was being honored that day. Many reflected on how such a short little life could affect so many and be so powerful.
Our lives do affect so many others around us – for good or bad. Let’s spend our one chance at this life making it better. Life is full of the good, beautiful, and wonderful; we need not focus on the bad, unfair, or who’s to blame when misfortune strikes. We have all heard the clichés along these lines or seen the memes in our Facebook newsfeeds. Look at the bright side.
Ignore the haters. Choose to think the best not the worst of people. Be quick to ask forgiveness and even quicker to forgive. Whatever is troubling you about someone else – let it go. Speak kind words. Love freely and deeply.
We need to take advantage of our time here on earth. No one will ever be on their death bed wishing they had blamed all the right people for all the bad things in their life or in the lives of others. Use this life to spread happiness.
Use this life to help others. Use this life to appreciate the important things and choose to let go of the unimportant things like blame. Imagine the difference in the world if we all just let go of this one thing called blame.
Imagine the increased feelings of contentment, peace, love and appreciation. Imagine the problems that would be solved if we just skipped the blaming. Isn’t that what most of us want anyway – to solve problems we face or that those close to us face? Blaming solves nothing, so just skip that step. Let’s just focus on more important things.
Here are some of the things I want to be better at focusing my time and energies on: stopping to smell the roses (or in Samoa maybe the pua or gardenias); looking for the positive when bad things happen; not speaking ill of others no matter how deserving they are of ill-speaking; being more patient with others weaknesses – after all no one is perfect; and appreciating every day that I’m given by laughing more, loving more, and sharing more.
I may not always succeed at doing these things, but I’m not going to blame even myself, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I am a work in progress like the rest of you.
Let’s make Samoa a better place and just let blame go.