2005-09-30 - Finger-Pointing
It seems that nowadays, people are eager to point fingers at others, and sometimes it turns out later that the situation was more complicated than originally portrayed. Usually there is enough blame to go around, for after all, flawed human beings are involved, and none of us are perfect.
But somehow it seems to be a need for many people, to find someont to blame. It's very predictable. Something bad happens; fingers start pointing. And often people rush to court to sue, instead of just realizing we are all human, most of us are doing the best we can, and need to show each other some grace, because we all mess up. Fifty years ago, if someone spilled hot coffee, everyone realized it is just something that happens to all of us. Nowadays it sets off accusasions of blame, and lawsuits usually follow.
Recently, in the 99-degree heat of Summer, our Air Conditioner just suddenly died. The technicians worked many hours to try to uncover and fix the problem. They looked at the fuse box, the electrical wiring etc. But when all was said and done, it turned out that the defect was inside the heat pump itself. The problem was endogenous (from within), not exogenous (from an outside source).
Likewise, during our choir's "vacation," I was sitting in the sanctuary with my husband one Sunday morning, listening intently to the sermon - when suddenly I heard voices emanating from a radio! I was shocked, not as much by the radio itself as the fact it continued. I was sitting there passing judgment in my mind, thinking "how rude and inconsiderate. Even if they don't want to hear the message, the rest of us do!" Suddenly I realized the sound was coming from very close by. And to my horror, it suddenly dawned upon me that the radio was in MY bag! It had been bumped on accidentally by a book (i.e things shift in flight). The finger pointed at me!
I believe that's how it is in our lives, as well. We see it every day. Someone continues to lose jobs, and it's always the boss' fault, the coworkers' fault, society's fault (I'm still waiting for someone to try suing society!) - everyone but the employee's right? It's much easier to blame someone else. And yet when there is a pattern like that, chances are the problem is within - perhaps an attitude issue. If we go around with a chip on our shoulder, it will get knocked off, albeit often accidentally.
If someone has an explosive temper, and blows up at his wife, his children, the waitress that forgets the butter, or whoever - chances are all these people who "make him mad" are really actually the victims of his inside problem, his temper.
If you are seeing a pattern in your life, of a continuing problem, I urge you to take an honest look at yourself. What if you saw someone else talking or acting like you have been doing? What would your assessment be then - if it were someone you were watching from a distance? Sometimes it helps us be objective, if we can mentally step outside the situation for a moment.
I used to see this in court every day. It was someone else's fault the person was in jail - the police officer's, his friends', his parents', whoever - even though he was the one that bought the methamphetamine, or stole the leather jacket, hijacked the vehicle - you name it, and it was someone else's fault.
We as Christians (and particularly American society at large) need to start taking responsibility. God holds each of us responsible for our behavior. And on Judgment Day, you can try saying "Well God, my wife made me mad. That's why I put those welts on her" or "well my boss was mean, so that's why I stole from the company," or "my boss is out to get me, so that's why I was fired" (not admitting it's really for being difficult to work with or being constantly tardy, not doing all the work required etc.). Excuses just won't cut it with God. So let's get started here and now, taking responsibility for our own behavior. Let's turn our fingers around and point them at ourselves. It's the mature thing to do, and it's the right thing to do.