As you may know by now, most of my blogs are about death and/or life in some form or another. I love sharing my passion about death with you but for today I'm going to veer off and then, in a round about way turn it back to living, and dying...in the end...hmm...
Today's longish blog is about blame because it seems to be at the fore of many conversations here in Australia of late. And without further ado...
Earlier this evening, I piped in on a friend's Facebook post about a topic of heated debate in this lucky country that I currently live in. I won't get into the details of what the topic was, but suffice it to say politics, power and the welfare of people from other countries had something to do with it!
What bothered me the most about the conversation, after I surreptitiously hijacked my friends post, was how easily it was for people to slip into blaming. Blaming the other person, blaming this country, blaming that country, blaming the government, or blaming just about anything unfit for the accepted 'normal' paradigms.
As Thich Nhat Hanh quotes above, we don't go around blaming lettuce for not growing well, do we? No! Because, well, that would be silly!
Just because the heads of humans are supposedly superior to the heads of lettuce, doesn't mean some people have a monopoly over others on what is the 'right' or best way to live.
And, because the dictionary is always right (smirk), I'll refer to the socially constructed definition of blame and break it down for you, my friendly reader...here we go...This is from Dictionary.com just in case you felt the need to check!
verb, blamed, blam·ing, noun verb (used with object)
1. to hold responsible; find fault with; censure: I don't blame you for leaving him.
2. to place the responsibility for (a fault, error, etc.) (usually followed by on ): I blame the accident on her.
3. Informal. blast; damn (used as a mild curse): Blame the rotten luck.
4. an act of attributing fault; censure; reproof: The judge said he found nothing to justify blame in the accident.
5. responsibility for anything deserving of censure: We must all share the blame for this deplorable condition.
6. to blame, at fault; censurable: I am to blame for his lateness.
1150–1200; (v.) Middle English blamen < Anglo-French, Old French blasmer < Vulgar Latin *blastēmāre, for Late Latin blasphēmāre to blaspheme; (noun) Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French bla ( s ) me, derivative of the v.
Blaming is always about the other person, place, thing, dog, cat, fence, tomato-but-never-the-lettuce, me, you, her, him, them...you get my idea...
What blaming does is stop a person from taking responsibility for their harmful/hurtful actions toward another. We don't go around blaming someone for loving us, right? And we can't blame someone for being brutally KIND to us either, right?
Blame is always about perceived injustices quickly followed by no account taken for responsibility on the part of the persecutor, or the victim for that matter. No one ever wants to be at fault for anything!
But, this type of behaviour leads to victim mentality and a way of getting out of being fully responsible for how we treat each other.
For some people, it's easier to blame someone for doing them wrong than to try to understand the deeper reasons behind their actions. And that even goes for murderers and rapists! Yes, I know, stay with me on this one! No one is born to kill, hate, cheat, steal, rape or lie. These are learned behaviours and where do we learn them from? The environment to which we are born and raised into, our family of origin, our culture, our country, our society with all their expectations placed upon us before we even have a chance to decide for ourselves who and how we want to be. But wait...there's more...
Back to my friends Facebook post...
I am a seeker of justice for all, even for the person who murders, for at some point in their lives something atrocious happened to them, too. All it takes, though, is one person to change the paradigm, for better or for worse. Rather than take personal responsibility for understanding their persecutors in some small way, they turned around to become one themselves. In some people's lives 'kill or be killed' is all they know.
Quite often a third party will step in and start blaming something or someone higher up, let's say a politician or group of politicians known as 'the government'!
Psst...government is only a group made up of people, some do good, some not so good, but it's not a singular entity and shouldn't be treated as such!
Or perhaps we could go even higher than people in governments and blame God, but I won't get into my feelings about religion or God here because that's playing with fire and I'm not quite ready for that pot of hot water!
Nonetheless, it all boils down to a lack of responsibility for how our actions affect other people. Taking personal responsibility, owning up to mistakes, saying sorry, making amends, paying back, paying forward, and the myriad ways there are to stop the blame game, count for something.
They count for the people at the other end of that pointing finger.
And you don't know their story.
You don't know, but if you ask with genuine care and curiosity, you might just find out that the person who can't live in the country where they were born may have watched as their whole lives shattered into a million pieces from a bomb delivered by another country supposedly there to protect them.
You might find out that they murdered their parents because they were brutally beaten as children and they'd finally had enough. This doesn't excuse them because they still need to take responsibility for their actions, but at least you may find some compassion or understanding for them without that pointy finger.
You may find out that the beautiful clothing they have on their bodies when you see them are the only ones they could bring with them and they wash them everyday to avoid shame and judgement from you and your pointy finger.
And in the end I am left with nothing else to offer but hope, that as you read this, you find compassion and not judgement, in my words and my actions. My intent is to inspire you to think twice before pulling out your pointy finger. Although, it would be misguided of me to tell you to do anything with what I have written here, for that would lead me to judging you for being or thinking differently. Kind of defeats my purpose and my blog, right?!
“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours - it is an amazing journey - and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
And now, we are at the end and at the beginning! Where I leave you to take responsibility for your life and the impact you have on those around you...this is your emotional legacy. In the next blog I will be writing about your emotional legacy so stay tuned!
But in the meantime...and...
For another day, I am passionately yours,
In my workshop, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Death, I ask participants to imagine their final day alive, to feel what it would be like to say goodbye, I love you, I'm sorry, and thank you. Along with other videos and exercises, it is my hope that participants walk away with a clear sense that their lives are fragile and to be lived fully and (my favourite) PASSIONATELY!
But I'm kind of thinking I may be taking this exercise a wee bit lightly!
Especially when you take a look at what it's like for the folks who visit Daejeon, South Korea, recorded as the highest rate of suicide anywhere in the world. An average of 43 suicides per day is a staggering statistic but it's not until we see the reasons why that makes it easier to understand. The immense pressure to work long hours for financial gain, as one of the documentary participants explains, is one of the main reasons.
In the documentary 'A Good Day to Die: Fake Funerals in South Korea', Yuka Uchida of JapanVICE visits with Jung Joon who facilitates the "final day" and experiences her own final day alive as she knows it. Throughout the day participants are asked to say goodbye to their loved ones, an exercise which brings many of them to tears.
Given that death acceptance is my big passion, I'd probably love this workshop, the whole experience of it! For now, those of us not visiting South Korea any time soon, can still have a taste of what it's like by heading over to the VIDEOS page here on my website to watch the FULL documentary which lasts about 20 minutes.
If, after watching the documentary, you are moved to experience your own final day, contact me here or head over to the WORKSHOPS page to find out more about what, why, and how I take people on their own journey to death and back!
For another day I am passionately yours,
Here you will find the musings of me...