The Blame Game


"Who's to blame?" "Whose fault is it?" Common questions, yes, but sometimes unfortunate-unfortunate because they result in blame-shifting, and an innocent party gets hurt.

Blame-shifting happens in one of two ways:

First: When something happens that is your fault, but you look to shift the blame to someone else.

Second: When something happens that is nobody's fault-the fault of circumstances, bad luck, or some other amorphous cause-but you or "they"-the "they" can be anyone from governmental leaders to your group of friends-want to find a scapegoat to pin the blame on because it's more comfortable for many people if they can blame someone or some group for their ill fortune.

For an example of the above, you need look no further than Nazi Germany, where Hitler chose to pin the blame for post-WW I Germany's economic woes on the Jews-and then carry out a wholesale extermination of them.

Of course, not all blame games have results as massively catastrophic as that, but on a smaller scale, that sort of blaming goes on daily, in government, in business, and in families, as well as in social circles, organizations, and wherever else there are people. Scapegoating is a time-honored, if thoroughly dishonorable practice.

And what of blame-shifting when YOU are the guilty party but choose to cast aspersions of guilt onto some other, innocent individual? That is surely no more honorable-perhaps even less so. Little kids are good at this sort of blame-shifting, trying to escape punishment or parental reprimand by denying culpability and, often, trying to blame someone else-a friend, a sibling, or (depending on the infraction) even the family pet. In little kids, this behavior is understandable. In anyone else, it is mean and, yes, cowardly.

Ducking blame occurs not only when someone does something wrong, such as betraying a confidence, and then wrongfully pointing a finger at someone else as the person who let the cat out of the bag. It is also the chief operator when someone who does a half-assed job at work blames the boss for not promoting him/her and claims the boss has "office pets" and hands out promotions only to them.

Neither form of the blame game is good. We can, of course, accept blame-shifting as "human nature" in cases where there is no clear perpetrator on whom to place blame, but the fact that something is "human nature" does not make it right, good, or acceptable. Many traits including hate and bullying could be classed as "human nature." That doesn't mean we approve of them.

So, while it may be human nature to look for a blame target, a person to hold accountable when a series of unrelated misfortunes befall us, it is neither fair nor admirable.

The blame game, in both its forms, is ugly.


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