Who should we blame?

Society is becoming obsessed with blame. When a tragedy strikes, when relationships go wrong, when anything happens to disappoint us, there is a growing tendency to label it as someone’s fault. The concept of an “accident”, of “bad luck”, or “the way things are”, is being replaced by the idea that life ought to be a Utopia. If this Utopia is not the case, then we assume that someone is not doing their part. Much of the time, we will conclude that this person is ourself, and that we are to blame. Although this latter attitude is positive in that we are taking responsibility for our own happiness, and is definitely a better attitude than blaming others for our misery, it still leaves much to be desired.

The fundamental issue here is not so much our tendency to blame as our tendency to assume that life should be perfect. Whenever a so-called bad event occurs, we assume that there is a problem. This includes a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, contracting a disease or being diagnosed with cancer, or perhaps a disagreement in a relationship or a personal failure. Rather than recognize that such things are a part of life, we see them as a sign that something is deeply wrong. This lack of acceptance then leads us to find fault. In the case of a natural disaster, we may blame authorities for not implementing stronger housing standards or emergency procedures. In the case of a disease, we may blame our health care system for failing to detect it earlier. In our relationships and personal life, we may blame ourselves, our partner, or those around us.

It is clearly beneficial to find the causes of suffering and to take steps to reduce it. However, we must have an accepting attitude when we do this. Life is unpredictable and can never be controlled. Even the so-called preventable tragedies, caused by human error alone, can never be realistically eliminated. Therefore, while doing our best to improve on things, we must remember that death and suffering are a natural part of life, and we must also remember that no-one, ourself included, is perfect. This will let us work on problems without being bogged down by them, without feeling that life is unfair, and without looking for someone to blame.

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