It’s all your fault!
I was chatting with my friend, as I often do, and as usual the conversation revolved around fluffy, frothy topics such as “What is the meaning of life?”, “What does it mean to be human, specifically?”, Where does consciousness reside?”, —you know the sort of thing.
We came to some conclusions, tabled some topics, and he ended the conversation, as he often does, with the comment “It’s all your fault!” To which I replied, as I usually do, “Yep, you’re surely right about that!”
Now, in some contexts, this exchange may set off alarm bells. Could this be a co-dependent, or enabling relationship? In truth, at least with us, it’s really a sort of code-phrase we’ve developed for a specific purpose. Did you ever have a secret word or handshake or something with your best friend when you were are child? It’s a bit like that.
The twist to this is that most people might respond something like: “Of course ‘it’ (and it doesn’t really matter what ‘it’ is in this discussion), isn’t any ONE person’s ‘fault’! It takes two to tango.”
(Actually I have, upon occasion, tangoed all by myself, but that’s another post for another time.) BUT, even though we’re joking, and the humor reminds us not to take things as seriously as we otherwise might, we both mean these phrases literally. While I don’t, in most circumstances, like to use the word “fault” or “blame”, as I think the concepts are irrelevant (I wrote a whole post about why I think so), by using a phrase that psychology and communication gurus want us to stop using (“Blaming the Other Person in a relationship won’t get you anywhere; both of you have to take responsibility; blah, blah, blah…”—all true enough, of course) we remind each other that each of us is fully responsible for the situations, feelings, and circumstances in which we find ourselves.
The idea I’m currently exploring with this friend, and otherwise in my life, is this: “Whatever I see around me is a direct result of the thoughts I had been thinking for minutes, months, or years before this moment arrived.”
It’s not, in fact, “your” fault. Nor the government’s. Nor that of social institutions, oppression, poverty, injustice, my grandparents, the economy…anything else you care to name.
At this time I’m exploring this idea (which is different from subscribing to a belief) for both selfish and practical reasons. Succinctly: Any other world view is depressing to me. I don’t want to be depressed (I’m not of much use that way, and I DO like being of use) therefore, I’d rather choose to think differently. I also choose to think switching ones world view is as simple as that!
Now, following through, and acting from that point of view can be more challenging. Our habits of thought can be rather firmly entrenched. These ideas do not prevent me from acting, volunteering, sharing, writing, or otherwise hoping to contribute; it’s just that I don’t do so from a notion of something “out there” needing to be fixed. I really can’t “fix” anything but me, and I ain’t broke’ to begin with; I can only be improved upon!
So when my friend tells me, in the process of taking leave, that “It’s all my fault!”, and I agree, it’s a reminder for both of us to check our mood, our level of optimism, or anything else that’s not quite right with us, and shift our way of thinking about it. This part is controversial, and I know not everyone agrees with me here, but I also think this is the best way to start to effect change in the broader playing field, i.e. ones city or country or the world. As has been attributed to M. K. Gandhi, “BE the change you wish to see in the world.”