If you've ever had kids, you know the oldest argument in the book. "He started it." "No, she started it." Or maybe you left the stove on and burned dinner. You might try to find someone else to blame it on - this is called the blame game. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as "a situation in which one party blames others for something bad or unfortunate rather than attempting to seek a solution."
We see the blame game played out in our lives and on the news every day, but what are its origins? And how can we override it to get to the truth, and meaningful solutions? At a certain point, recriminations just become a distraction from our more pressing responsibilities as we move forward.
Are Our Judgments Logical?
"Psychology Today" gives five reasons people play the blame game:
It's a great defense mechanism, because we can "save face" by avoiding our own faults.
It's an offensive tool used to attack others.
We distort our own behavior and the causes of other's people behavior. Essentially, we make illogical judgments.
It's easier to lay blame at the feet of someone else than to accept responsibility.
Unfortunately, when we play the blame game, everyone loses. It's an unhealthy way to resolve conflicts. Winning an argument doesn't necessarily make you right. It may simply mean that you were louder or more persistent, making the other person give in and stop playing the game. This could easily result in a problem not being solved, or in the creation of new problems.
What Does the Bible Say?
The Bible is not silent on the blame game.
Romans 2:1 "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things."
Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Stop the Conflicts
When you're in a cycle of blame with another person, you have to be the bigger person and make attempts to stop the cycle. You cannot control the response of the other person, but you can work to resolve your conflicts in a healthy manner. Here are six ideas:
Open up about your hurt feelings
Don't make lists of the other person's flaws and mistakes
Examine your own part of the disagreement and avoid trying to prove your point
Use statements that talk about your own feelings and understandings instead of "you" statements that tend to come across as blameful
Don't make threats or say things you'll regret later
If you get overwhelmed, take a break and collect your thoughts
Although these ideas work more effectively one-on-one than in a group with diverse motives and ideas, we can learn from them to be more politically active. Get to know your political representatives. Have a conversation with them that isn't argumentative. Share your own thoughts without assuming their point of view. Go to your town hall meetings, even when you disagree with the leader's platform. Don't get defensive, but have a strong statement of your point of view.
Let's remember the words of President John F. Kennedy - "Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."
It's not going to be easy to work with people whose views are different from your own, but we have to stand up and be part of our government system. Apathy might be the biggest reason our government fails us. We have the right to take part, but we don't. Choose to be different and take a stand as our country moves forward. We aren't going to always agree, but we can be heard.