Blame

Blame, on the ground level, stems from ignorance—lack of insight to understand that physical occurrences, of any sort, trace to a million and one causes, ranging from the gross to the subtle with varying degrees of relevance.

To "blame" the car's ability to drive on gasoline alone, misses all the other parts of the car, the builders of the car, oil harvesting, and on and on.

To blame all your problems on your mother does not take in to account her childhood, the childhood of her parents, nor the potentially debatable narrative you are harboring about her, etc.

Blame is easy and provides quick relief. That's why we like it so much.

As we get to the basement level, we see that blame stems from a very specific kind of fear—the fear of connection.

In an enlightened tribe, if one neighbor perpetrates some wrong against another, the leader would not otherize the perpetrator, blame him, and punish as a principle tactic to achieve justice.

Why? The leader understands causality and that the picture is not as black and white as it seems. There are deeper reasons the perpetrator did what he did and there are deeper reasons the victim was on the receiving end of the behavior. To reflexively blame and punish the perpetrator is like opening a window to let smoke out without investigating where the fire is. Satisfying, but a guarantee you are setting yourself up for harm in the future.

This does not mean the leader condones whatever the behavior was. She may be sincerely outraged by it and inclined to use a punishment method. It means she is more interested in getting to the root cause and healing on that level for the sake of sanity, both parties, and the tribe.

Take a good look at this photo.

Photo by Pieter Hugo, from Portraits of Reconciliation.

Photo by Pieter Hugo, from Portraits of Reconciliation.

On the left is Jean Pierre Karenzi and on the right, Viviane Niyramana. In the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, Jean Pierre killed Viviane's father and three brothers.

Imagine if somebody did something like that to your family. Would you be able to occupy the same space as him or put your hand on his shoulder?

After going through a reconciliation process (a strategy the Rwandan government has used to heal from the genocide) with expert facilitators, Viviane is now able to do so and says, "I was afraid of him — now I have granted him pardon, things have become normal, and in my mind I feel clear." Emphasis added.

That's the odd thing about victims and perpetrators or any two seemingly opposed sides. They get entwined with one another. As righteous as it may feel to blame and punish your opposite, this is not the way to truly heal your differences.

True healing comes when the opposed sides have the courage to drop their hateful and spiteful feelings and take a deep look at one another with eyes that seek to understand and be free. In so doing, shared humanity is recognized and harmony can begin to flow again.

This does not mean we make excuses for ills and evils. It means the path of peace and compassion is a difficult but necessary one to walk.

Making the Other Wrong

If we can make the other wrong, then we make ourselves right.

If we make ourselves right, then we achieve a sense of superiority.

Behind the sought after sense of superiority, is a more human need—the need to be recognized/seen/appreciated/validated.

The more a culture is fractured along ethnic, political, religious, and ideological lines, the more making the other wrong you will find since nobody feels any of these things in sufficient quantity.

It is a self-defeating coping strategy, like violence, to bring harmony to an out-of-balance situation.

Very few among us have the rare ability to meet it with a dose of presence.

That means taking more than a few moments before offering a response, attempting to see things from the other's perspective, and then offering a response that serves to heal vs. otherize, even if it is at the expense of a cheap ego defense.

A fight to make yourself right and the other wrong, like a fight with a lion, leaves only one party standing in the end.

A Little Squeeze

There are no tests along the way. Nature does not give out grades.

What can happen, especially when it is time to close one door and move through another, is that you end up on the receiving end of a little squeeze that is perfectly adjusted to the level of ushering you require.

We get into comfortable grooves. We settle with our stories. We like our routines. However, you didn't sign up for comfort or routine, you signed up for progress, which means constantly beginning anew, at times without notice.

You might call the squeeze a crisis. But crisis is just a word we use to mean, "I don't know what's going to happen. I'm not sure if things will turn out OK." That's all a crisis is. Worry based in not knowing. Would it be a crisis if you knew how things were going to end?

More fundamental than any adverse, potentially scary circumstance is that a little pressure is now being applied where you are most sensitive. It can hurt.

Are you not ten times more alert? Asking important questions? Looking at the world differently? Perhaps remembering who you are and what really matters?

This means change, of some sort, a change you have been asking for, is underway.

Think about where you were before lightning struck. If you could, would you really want to go back? Maybe it was more familiar but can't you see that something needed to give?

Watch. In time, the unfamiliar becomes familiar but don't get too attached, as the familiar eventually becomes unfamiliar. And so on.