It never helps to place blame

Ruth Ann was just a tiny girl at the time and I was about 10 years older. But I’ll never forget what fun it was when all the relatives came to visit!
This time Aunt Naomi had baked one of her wonderful cream pies. It was enough to make your mouth water. And I watched with anticipation as my conscientious little cousin carried the pie into the house, only to see that beautiful banana cream pie dropped face down on the gravel.
It was enough to make you cry. And the poor little girl knew how sad everyone felt. With anguish in her voice, she wrung her hands, “Jimmy let me carry it,” she said, “and for goodness sakes I dropped it!”
I might not remember the story, except for my normally fun-loving grandmother’s response. “Why did Jimmy let her carry it?” asked Grandma. And just like that the blame was transferred. It was Jimmy’s fault.
Fortunately, I didn’t grow up in a blame-fixing family and it was only seconds until all the pie-mourners saw how ludicrous the whole thing was and laughter broke out. Deep down, everyone knew that no amount of blaming would bring back the pie.
Somehow that incident of long ago kept coming to my mind last month as the world struggle to fix the blame for the death of their beloved Princess.
The royal family didn’t treat her right. Her parents were divorced when she was far too young. The driver was drunk and driving too fast. The hotel was irresponsible in its choice of a driver. And most of all, the photographers were hounding much too closely.
Thus, in blaming, we try to heal our own sorrow and disappointment; and absolutely refuse to see the tightly-controlled pain on the faces of royalty. The horror of hard-working photographers caught in a chain of events they could never have imagined. The hurt family whose disgraced son will be sent back to his small village for burial with royal blood on his hands. The grief and disappointment of an Egyptian-born man who once hoped to be part of British society.
It seems sometimes that blame is the only way we know to deal with suffering and disappointment, both in public and private life.
All of us experience hurts in life. Terrible hurts. You can’t get to those side of 60 without them. We lose loved ones in accidents. We’re fired from jobs of long-standing. We feel betrayed by our colleagues and our national leaders. We see poverty growing and our beautiful planet diminishing.
There’s enough grief to keep us all from happiness. Small wonder we constantly search for someone to blame.
In some ways, the Princess was no different from the rest of us. She, too, did her share of blaming–the paparazzi, a difficult childhood, royal expectations.
But that’s not what we’ll remember her for. What we will remember about Princess Diana is how she rose above the placing of blame to take on the world’s important causes. And maybe we won’t even forget that she and Mother Teresa died only days apart.
If there is a lesson to be learned from last month’s international grief, this must be it. Blame never heals anything. It only increases the suffering.
So why not think about it next time you’re tempted to blame elected officials, church leaders, neighbours, employers, the media, friends or enemies. What will you really gain by the placing of blame, except a bitter soul?
In the meantime you could be doing something to heal the suffering. So ask yourself, can you forget the blaming and get on with the healing your home, your community, and your world so desperately need?

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