As all of you, I have watched the events over the past few weeks unfold with horror, and I have grieved so many lives lost to hate.
I haven’t wanted to write about this because I have no real answers. I suspect that most of us feel completely helpless. We wonder who is to blame. Of course, the shooters are ultimately to blame, but who else is culpable?
Who’s to blame?
I think that’s usually the wrong question. The blame game serves to polarize us and is at best only a fraction of the truth. At the heart of all of it is sin that eats away at our hearts and leaves its ugly deposit on the world. This is where the real issue is—our hearts.
Media feeds on the blame game, loving the sound bites with which it lures the public to their posts, articles, and newscasts. Our political system—local, state, and national— is the worse for it with candidates who win by blaming the loudest.
But the blame game isn’t just played by professional media or politicians, and it’s not limited to the racial divide. We all play it on social media, through the gossip chain in our churches, and at home in our marriages.
Why are we drawn to the blame game?
Blaming someone else provides the illusion that we are totally innocent. Society used to consider it a characteristic of children. My own kids always pointed a finger at one another when they got into trouble. More recently it seems that the blame game has grown popular with adults, too. Or maybe it is simply more public now. We have forgotten how to have respectful conversations because pointing fingers fuels hate.
The blame game allows us to justify and hold onto our anger instead of confessing our part, overlooking the frailties of others, and forgiving them as needed.
What can we do rather than play the blame game—in the racial situation, marriage, church, work, etc.?
Many of the Charleston families chose to forgive—a true counter-cultural value but one highly prized by God. That’s not an easy thing to do, but God does call us to respond in love rather than let anger take over our hearts.
We must look within and take responsibility for what we have failed to do to improve the situation and what we have actively done to make it worse. As followers of Jesus we are called to treat others as made in the image of God and worthy of respect, including the President and our church leadership. Questions can be asked and problems can be considered while still being gracious and polite. Maybe we have played the blame game online or through gossip. Perhaps we have spoken disrespectfully about people with whom we disagree.
We reach out and listen to others understand their experiences. Otherwise, how can we truly weep with those who weep?
We confess the sins of our group, as a police officer did at one of the Dallas funerals (He begins about 45 minutes into the service and is not shown because he works undercover.)
I’ve certainly played the blame game many times. I don’t have all the answers for conflict and hatred, but I do know that the blame game is part of the problem, not the solution.
I would love to hear your ideas that lead to healing and reconciliation.