2015-01-06 - Stopping the Buck
Most of us have heard and even used the phrase, "The Buck stops here," which is said to have originated from the French phrase "bouc émissaire," which translates as scapegoat.
During a recent election campaign, it was refreshing to hear one candidate using that phrase to accept responsibility, instead of blaming others as some national and local leaders do - even many years after those blamed have left office - and the media don't do their job. They don't hold them accountable, if it's someone they like, or they are afraid of not being "politically correct." Our Georgia governor, Nathan Deal - with whom I definitely have not always agreed - has shown true leadership in taking responsibility (even sometimes when not legally necessary, as during an ice storm for which - unlike in NY - he did not have the authority to shut schools etc.). There are so many political leaders who could learn from him.
But it's not just political "leaders" who try to cast blame on others, rather than "manning up," as the modern phrase goes. Most all of us do it at some time or another. Having been involved in the Criminal Justice system for a decade-and-a-half, I have heard more than my share of the phrase "someone else did it," as well as countless excuses given for committing crimes. In one case, a young man had five separate convictions of felonies - five separate Grand juries had indicted him five separate times. Five separate trials, five separate juries had then found him guilty, five separate times of five separate violent crimes. Yet his mother stood up and said "Your Honor, every time my son has been convicted of a crime, it's been someone else's fault." She did not have a clue how obviously ridiculous she sounded. The discerning judge responded: "Ma'am, you can blame someone else once but not five times - and eventually your son has to accept his own responsibility. You, ma'am are part of the problem. Sit down and don't say anything else." The buck had to stop with the young man, but in his defense, he didn't get very good parenting or role modeling in that regard.
We live in a world where society doesn't often hold us responsible for our own sins or mistakes. We live in a world where people overlook the fact that someone has committed traumatizing violence against others, and instead of holding them responsible for their acts, the people lift the felons up as heroes. We live in a world where someone violates a law and someone's safety by breaking into their home or business, but instead of saying "it's my fault," the perpetrator sues the victim because the perpetrator gets hurt while committing a felony. We live in a world that glamourizes violence with television shows and movies that make heroes out of criminals. For those of us who work with the traumatized victims, this can be frustrating, as we see the sometimes life-changing effects of the violence. We want justice here and now, we work toward that, and thankfully sometimes it happens. It is our responsibility to do our part:
Isaiah 1:17 (MSG) Work for justice.
And regardless of the success or failure of Earthly systems, God Himself will not accept excuses. We do all ultimately answer to Him, and he will hold us responsible for our own sins and crimes. He holds us individually accountable. With God, "the buck stops here" for each one of us. Let's all resolve that in 2015, we will take responsibility for our own sins and mistakes, and encourage others to do so as well. Otherwise, we aren't being honest with ourselves, others - or with God. The more people (including us) who take responsibility for their actions, the safer and healthier society we will have - and the more we will please the Lord.
Janice P. Moser
All scripture references are from the NASB unless otherwise noted.