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Office of Blame – Therapy or Denial?

Last weekend, I saw these posters along Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. An inconspicuous display, but that buzz word, “blame” does catch your eye. Who can resist an opportunity to speak the unspoken? A chance to place blame – on the record?

A little research revealed the back story – Geoff Cunningham and Carla Repice set out to dip into the collective consciousness throughout the country with some random research. They set up shop in areas hot in collective blame — like Ground Zero and Wall Street, as Blame Accountants, “inviting passersby to blame, record, and reflect. Who has wronged you?  What does it mean to take accountability for the actions—or inactions—of people, groups, and systems that have wronged you?  If held accountable, where will you find yourself and what actions will you take?” Here is the book that followed this project.

This particular morning, strolling through a Brooklyn neighborhood, I was first intrigued and then amused by the admissions on the posters. But what followed was a sensation of both disappointment – and boredom. As it turns out, there is not much new in the collective blame game.  What I read was was mostly  name-calling and complaining. If we are to place blame, can we at least be more imaginative about it?

As we all know, blaming people is usually futile. As kids, we blamed our siblings for lots of things, or whoever else happened to be around. We got a little older and start blaming our teachers, our parents and friends.

Hopefully, as we grow up and out of our childish ways, we learn to navigate this darker side of human nature. Yoga text says that there is nothing that will drain your energy more than having an “enemy”. I’ve personally found this to be true. So, at some point, I stopped (mostly) blaming individuals for things that happened to me or what I felt (this took years!!).

Of course, I then became good at blaming groups of people – this seemed more innocuous. I blamed entire corporations for trashing the environment. I blamed meat eaters for abusing animals. I blamed people who didn’t recycle, drive big cars, or have swimming pools, for wasting our resources. I protested and complained and ranted. Blame walks a fine line of other energy-wasting emotions. I was quickly becoming hateful and jaded.

Who knows really how and why we become aware of our foolish ways – everyone’s journey is different. But at some point, I made a shift from blame to action – action in my own life and mind. No less annoyed by the misguided cultural habits, I learned to “hate the deed, not the doer”. I slowly and imperfectly, learned to do more of what I needed to do in my own life, sending out more positive energy for what change than negativity towards blaming. It was a point of surrender, I suppose. In yoga, it’s called “giving it over” (to a higher consciousness) rather than “giving in”.

2 Responses to “Office of Blame – Therapy or Denial?”

  1. phyllisdiehl Says:

    ahhh.the blame game, who hasn’t played this……thank you for talking about this, it is very hard to “let go” of the blame “them” stuff. but, it sure makes you “lighter” in our life.

    i too believe that doing the deed, action, is something we should all strive for.

    again, you bring the truth to living a good life.

  2. Roger Hartsell Says:

    Yes, I have found it convenient to blame other people or entities in the past. It was easy to blame BP for the oil fiasco, but truthfully the blame is on us, for demanding oil and petroleum by-products for our wasteful lifestyles, and not being fully aware of the degree of off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico already in process. There are some genuine sources of causation, if not blame, that we can control. Over-population. Greed. Ignorance.

    T-shirt of the week,
    “I didn’t say it was your fault,
    I just said I was going to blame you.”

    About the best we can do is model behaviors in our own lives, and push for education where possible. And after all, wasn’t Bloomberg elected by the citizens of NY?

    Simply put, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
    Pugs, Roger

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