Archive for December 5th, 2008

Blame.

Posted on December 5, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Health, Philosophy, Spirituality |

This post has been swimming in my brain for a few days—it wants out! When a word or feeling presents itself for my attention repeatedly, I know it’s time for me to give it a look. One of the best ways I know to explore these attention-getting topics is to write about them on this blog. It seems to do me a world of good. 🙂

I don’t generally watch much news on television, and hadn’t paid a lot of attention to the Internet headlines, either. However I realize I’ve been semi-addicted to the news continually since August 8th, and, I’m ready to wean myself from it again. I usually get what I feel is the needed amount of news in 5-minute sound-bites on the radio; if something “major” has happened, I’ll hear that too, and can then choose to seek more information if I wish.

So, what happened on August 8th to change this? The Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. After the Olympic Games, almost immediately, the U.S. Democratic Presidential Convention was broadcast on TV. Following on the heals of the Democratic came the Republican Convention. There was a major hurricane in the middle of it all.

After the conventions, the more-interesting-than-usual nature of some of the candidates made me follow the campaign as I’d never done in my life. By then, it was mid-October, and I was hooked. Daily viewings of my favorite online news websites would take up much time I’d previously spent reading books, or doing other things—like blogging. For some bloggers this has been great fodder, but these are things I don’t generally write about. I had to ask myself, “why? Why don’t I blog what I read in the news, since I focus so much energy upon it?”

I look back on the past several months; and realize that, in my addiction to the excitement of the news, I was also absorbing plenty of hyperbole. 24-hour news stations, by their nature, have to talk, talk, talk, about something. A lot of what they mention has to do with Blame. China was blamed for human rights violations, and, less seriously, for under-age gymnasts. The Democrats blamed the Republicans, and the Republicans blamed the Democrats…and the current administration, for the “state we find ourselves in.” The hurricane, well, it must have been someone’s fault, although the aftermath did not carry as much blame as its more famous predecessor.

Most recently, I have been distressed at the amount of blame being levied by many people, from many countries, regarding the attacks in Mumbai. Please understand, I feel great sadness and compassion for those who were hurt, and the families who mourn, wherever they were from. I understand initial anger, sadness, and grief. My own country experienced these things after September 11, 2001. Some of us humans feel best if we can, actually, assign blame for such actions. Again, let me make clear that I do believe that, when crimes are committed, and there is evidence, a fair trial, and conviction, that perpetrators have earned the right to serve their sentences.

I’m speaking here to individuals carrying anger and rage and the desire to blame long after its usefulness. It is my belief that this hurts the angry person much more than those to whom the anger is directed. Also, in our quest to assign blame, we often condemn an entire segment of a population. Most of us would not hold a small child living in, say, Pakistan, or Afghanistan, or Ireland responsible for terrorist attacks. Yet, these situations often escalate into wars in which that small child could easily become a casualty.

Speaking for myself, I have no enemies, and even if I did, it would not be possible to have a “country” as an enemy. How could that be? A country is an area of land, and every single one of them nurtures many fine people who, if I had the chance to know them, could become my friends.

I am a product of two previously warring nations. I am an American of part-German and part-Scottish extraction. It was before my time, but Germany and the UK have been bitter enemies a number of times; most notably and recently during World War II. To this day, my family members won’t tell or don’t know what my father’s relatives who remained in Germany did during the war; how they survived.

I’ve met my German relatives’ children and grandchildren; people just like me—except they speak German better than I do. 🙂 Germany and the UK are friends now, but I know of people, alive today, who feel 63 years isn’t that long ago; who still don’t trust “those krauts” as they call Germans.

Life is transitory. People who believe in reincarnation and who have studied its teachings tell me I may come back, next time, in the guise of my current enemy. Our bodies are like suits of clothes. Eventually, they will wear out and we’ll go shopping for another suit. Most of us would discourage our children, if we have them, from disliking or being mad at someone because they didn’t like their outfit!

Finally, I’m reminded of a powerful scene from the film, Gandhi. In it, a distraught young father comes to Gandhi for advice. He is a Hindu and has just seen his little boy, “only so high” killed by Muslim soldiers. He wants to know how he can possibly deal with the grief of this. Gandhiji says to him (and forgive my paraphrasing; I’m relying on memory): “Find a boy, a Muslim boy about “so high” whose parents have been killed. Take him into your home to raise, but you must raise him as a Muslim.”

The distraught father isn’t sure he can act on this suggestion, and to be honest, I’m not sure I could either. It would be one thing to adopt an orphan; quite another to raise him in a faith in which I did not believe. Still, I remain moved by this, and I suspect it might have eased the father’s great burden.

I remind myself to forgive where I see blame in the world, including within myself. And I’m listening to less current-events news, and more music! 😀

Etymology of Blame:
Middle English, from Anglo-French blamer, blasmer, from Late Latin blasphemare to blaspheme, from Greek blasphēmein
Date:  13th century
1: to find fault with : <the right to praise or blame a literary work>2 a: to hold responsible <they blame me for everything> b: to place responsibility for <blames it on me>

Origin:
1525–35; < LL blasphēmus < Gk blásphēmos defaming, speaking evil, equiv. to blá(p)s(is) harm, evil (blab- harm + -sis cf. bláptein to harm) + -phēmos speaking, deriv. of ph speech

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