Turning off the Blame Game

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Since the financial crisis hit, there has been no shortage of one commodity: blame. And what is sometimes called the "Blame Game" has been actively pursued, in spite of the fact that the word "game" is derived from the Old Saxon gaman, meaning fellowship, which makes the phrase an oxymoron. Though it may be an understandable reaction, it has been taken to extremes.

For instance, the NBC Nightly News (Nov. 15), reported that a Brooklyn artist has been painting portraits of various Wall Street executives, as well as those involved in the financial rescue work in Washington, and setting up those canvases on Wall Street. The artist invites the public to vent their frustration, anger, and even hatred for these individuals, by writing comments on the paintings. It's reminiscent of the days when people were put in stocks in the village square to be publicly shamed.

Obviously, there are corrections to be made on many fronts, but the unseen danger in pointing to another and assigning blame to any group – Wall Street executives, lenders, borrowers, or government officials – is that the one doing so immediately takes on the identity of victim. By identifying another as a villain, one unwittingly identifies himself as a victim, for villain and victim are two sides of the same coin. No one benefits from these limiting labels.

There's a higher and more effective course. True fellowship might be the better way to go. Supporting what is right and good in others is a far more effective way to eradicate base, selfish, or egocentric tendencies.

In one biblical example, there was an unscrupulous tax collector named Zacchaeus who, according to Luke's Gospel, was very rich and also quite curious about Jesus. As Jesus approached, Zacchaeus realized that Jesus wouldn't see him for all the crowds. So he climbed a tree in order to get a better view. When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and called him down. Then Jesus told him he would stay at his house that night. The crowd, which didn't have a high view of Zacchaeus, murmured over Jesus' plan to go to a sinner's house. But this encounter with Jesus had an immediate effect on him. Soon he declared that he would give half of his equity to the poor and that if he were found guilty of wrongly acquiring his wealth from anyone, he would pay them back four times the original worth (see Luke 19:1-9).

Jesus did not see this man as a blameworthy sinner; he saw God's image and likeness. This view brought to light Zacchaeus's original and good identity, and removed from him the identity of a greedy businessman as one would shed an unwanted coat. Jesus, rejoicing in this transformation, then declared, "This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham."

The Christ, God's message of utter love and compassion for all, made plenty of room for spiritual reformation in a crowd filled with accusation and blame. It's entirely possible that others who were as receptive as Zacchaeus experienced reformation that day as well.

And it's possible now, in city streets, Wall Street, Main Street, and all other streets, to experience this restorative view of our fellow men, women, and children.

God's child is naturally Godlike, not self-absorbed, greedy, or thoughtless. Nor is the child of God ill-tempered, accusatory, or condemning. God made us one way, for one purpose: to be like Him in order to glorify Him. It is everyone's privilege to see this perfect child of God in everyone, and to be this child at every opportunity.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, wrote, "Remember that man's perfection is real and unimpeachable, whereas imperfection is blameworthy, unreal, and is not brought about by divine Love" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 414).

The culprit is always the mistaken and material view of things. It alone deserves blame, while God's child deserves to be viewed in his or her spiritual identity. As the Apostle Paul put it, "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5:23).

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