Whom do you blame?

CONSIDER two men who have fallen into a deep, open pit on a city street. The first man is looking up at the walls and the mouth of the pit. He is considering the best way to climb out. The second man is consumed with blaming. He first blames himself for not seeing the pit. Then he begins to blame his wife for sending him out to the store on such a dark evening. Soon he proceeds to blame the street workers for not properly identifying the open pit. Finally he blames government for not completing the work on the street more promptly. Meanwhile the first man has identified a small ledge, halfway up the pit, that should enable both men to climb out and be on their way. Most of us would like to approach problems like the first man, but the tendency to blame others for our problems can be quite subtle and even habitual. We may be tempted to condemn our parents, children, or in-laws for certain troubles. Some people love to criticize their employers for their job dissatisfaction. Others consistently blame another race or nationality for their troubles. While it may seem legitimate to blame others, and certainly no one can be absolved from facing and overcoming his faults, we need ultimately to silence the inclination to rail against others. Why? Because God is the one real cause, not people. ``God creates and governs the universe, including man,'' 1 affirms Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Does this mean we are to blame God for our struggles and unhappiness? No. God is our loving creator. He has not abandoned us or placed us under the domination of people or evil circumstances. Realizing God's tender care, we are able to overcome limitations. Then, whom or what are we to blame? The Bible pinpoints the enemy as ``the carnal mind,'' which is ``enmity against God.'' 2 All our troubles can be traced to carnal-mindedness--to sinful, matter-based thinking--which counterfeits the one genuine divine Mind, God. But we can't merely blame the carnal mind for our problems and then resign ourselves to sin's open pit. We must begin to eliminate the trouble-producing sin, whether it seems to be our own shortcoming or the imposition of worldly thinking. The need is to realize in prayer that sinful thoughts and actions are impotent and destined to be destroyed. God has not empowered the carnal mind with the ability to imprison man in lack or frustration. In fact, sin has absolutely no authority over God's man. God's man, our true selfhood, exists at the very standpoint of goodness and perfection. It is the totally fallacious argument of the carnal mind which suggests that God's creation is controlled by sin. In the final analysis, the carnal mind has no place or power because it has no creator. In our deepest prayers we can perceive that our apparent problem, since not of God, has no bona fide cause, and therefore need not be attributed to anyone or anything. The Bible tells us about many men and women who refused to get caught up in blaming. The Old Testament patriarch Joseph, for example, was cast into a pit by his jealous brothers. Joseph was rescued but sold to foreigners as a slave. Later in his career he was unjustly cast into prison. By any common reckoning, in light of the great hardship others unjustly caused him, Joseph could have spent many years harboring bitter blame. But he turned to God for guidance and progress. He resisted the temptation to bury himself in faultfinding. One might say he expressed the Christly quality of forgiveness, which was to be emphasized in the teachings of our Master, Christ Jesus. For example, when Joseph was finally brought into contact with his brothers, many years after they had thrown him into the pit, he urged them not even to condemn themselves: ``Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.'' 3 Joseph realized that God was the sovereign and only creator. There was no need to pin blame on a person. By expressing divinely derived forgiveness and persistence, Joseph demonstrated that sin has no ultimate authority to thwart our progress and that sin can be conquered. Each one of us has the God-given capacity to overcome sin and limitation. God has not made us to stagnate in some pit of despair. We can quit believing and affirming that ``so-and-so has an irreversible negative influence in our lives.'' God enables us to understand the reality that divine Love alone is in control. 1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 295. 2 Romans 8:7. 3 Genesis 45:5.

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