Sometimes, in the midst of a violent storm of accusation and counter accusation, a voice of reason rises above the noise and speaks out to correctly identify the cause. This video by Samuel L. Jackson is exactly that. I stumbled across it by accident but I am glad I did. I believe it cuts to the heart of the cancer that is eating away at our societies. There is more leadership in this short video than the entire careers of people like the Rev. Al Sharpton, President Obama or all of the GOP candidates combined.
Mr. Jackson is speaking to youths drawn to violence, particularly gun violence, but it is a message to all of us. The only way to end the cycle of violence is to end the constant cycle of blame; to stand up and take responsibility for our individual lives and to live them to the best of our abilities.
The world is full of blame now. The Trayvon Martin case is only one more example of that and how quickly reality can spin out of control as the blame is accelerated. People who aren’t even remotely involved in this terrible tragedy are blaming others they don’t know or with whom they interact on social media.
Black leaders who defend due process are called Uncle Toms and blamed for not standing in solidarity with the black community. Others blame poverty, racism, the police, government and the law. It is all about finding someone or something to blame.
We do it with everything now.
When we don’t get our own way, we blame whoever prevented that; our parents, our governments, our neighbours or whoever else won when we lost.
The poor blame the rich for they’re poverty. The rich blame the poor for the poverty in which they live. Students blame the government for the high cost of tuition while the academics who help drive up that cost blame the government for the same thing.
Unions blame management while management blames unions. The left blames the right and the right blames the left and sometimes each other while the Occupy movement blames everyone for everything.
We blame others for our circumstance because we are afraid and feel powerless. It is our fear that makes us angry. It is that anger that drives us to blame others. We teach our children that anger is the correct response to every slight and every hurt.
Bullying is not a virus that one catches, it is learned behavior and our children are learning it from us. We bully and yell and accuse in our desperate search for someone or something to blame and our children are learning only too well from us.
We blame everyone but ourselves for our own failures and the failures within our society.
A society is nothing but a collection of individuals and if each individual is not prepared to accept responsibility for his or her own life, the cycle is perpetuated and the blame continues.
John Kennedy said once, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Perhaps on a more personal level we should be asking ourselves, “Ask not who is to blame. Ask how do we find the courage to take responsibility to overcome the challenges in our own lives rather than blaming others.”
Unless we break the cycle of blame, we will continue to see anger and the escalating frustration and violence that too often accompany it. Unless we break the cycle of blame, we will never learn to respect each other and to stop the dark things that divide us and too often lead to lives being ruined. We will continue to foster racism, poverty, greed, violence and all the other ugly things that flourish in blaming someone or something rather than uniting to overcome those things.
It takes courage to be take responsibility for your own life. There is no courage in using anger and violence to lash out at others we try to blame. Unless we break the cycle of blame, we will continue to watch the world we want slip from our hands like water through our fingers and one day, there will be no water left.