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 The Blame Game 
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Post The Blame Game
The Blame Game
by: Melody Brooke

Everywhere I go I am bombarded with messages of blame. Who is to blame for the war? George Bush, of course. Oh, but wait, it’s the terrorists. Who is responsible for global warming? Why it’s those stupid republicans for not paying attention to the environment. No, no, it’s the capitalist businessmen, for continuing to develop the world for their own profit. Whose fault is that I got fired? It’s that idiot boss of mine.

When something goes wrong, our human brains are wired to look for someone or something to blame. Our mammalian ancestors have left us with a remnant of a brain wired to respond to problems by assigning blame. It’s a survival mechanism that allows us to ascertain where the problem for something lies and then we can figure out how to solve the problem based on who is to blame. It’s an automatic reaction. The caveman bumps into a tree, “Oh, bad tree. Must walk around next time.” “Oh, bad tiger ate my friend. Must find new way to river.”

Obviously I am over simplifying here, but you get the idea. By knowing what the cause of a problem is we have a better shot at solving it, and surviving it. The problem is that our old brain mechanism of looking for blame doesn’t help in our more complicated modern world. Yet it is so automatic that it has become an accepted part of our way of functioning in the world, in spite of the difficulties that it engenders.

What blame does is to assign all responsibility for something on to someone or something in order to meet our survival needs. We either absolve ourselves of all responsibility for something by blaming someone else, thereby perpetuating the belief that we are blameless and innocent. Or we assume all responsibility for something in order to reinforce the idea that we are shameful, and bad. How does the latter help us survive?

Well, if the alternative is to blame someone that we think is perfect or at least too good to blame, we get to hold on to the fantasy of that person’s perfection by blaming ourselves. And, if we have spent our entire lives believing that we are no good, then we have to continue to keep up the appearance that we are no good or we will shatter our view of the world and ourselves.

Blame sets the world up into neat categories. There is a Victim, a Villain and a Rescuer. It’s all predictable and easy to understand. We can feel powerful and in control when we understand who is to blame and who are the victims. It’s all black and white and tied up in a neat bow that everyone understands. We can all get on board with the Rescuer and feel sorry for the poor Victim. We can all gang up against the evil Villain and feel good about ourselves because we are not the Villain; we are the Rescuer or even the innocent Victim, but not the evildoer.

After 9/11 all of the United States needed someone to blame for the horror. We needed an enemy to fight because we all felt so wounded by the loss of the twin towers and the thousands they held inside. We all felt completely helpless and out of control. Finding someone to blame helped us to shore up a sense that we were not helpless and that we could fight back. Attributing the blame for 9/11 onto Bin Ladden gave us a tangible “evildoer” that we could fight. It was easy for us to line ourselves up against the wretched Suddam Hussein with little evidence because we still needed an enemy. Afghanistan was under control, though we have yet to capture Bin Ladden, we could re-focus on the real cause, Suddam. Our need to blame and fight our persecutors led us into an ill-conceived battle that will not end any time soon. Yet our instincts told us to find someone to blame and to fight the evildoer (Villain).

Today, few of us believe that blaming Suddam for the Twin Towers makes any sense. But at the time, it was what our country impulsively did to try to regain a sense of control. Blaming Suddam was easy, he was an evil man who had tortured and massacred thousands of people. But he was not responsible for our victimization. In our instinctive, reactionary need to find someone to blame, we attacked his regime.

Now we find ourselves blamed for the miserable conditions in Iraq and find that we have only really hurt ourselves and not done much to resolve the issues that led up to the tragedy of 9/11.

When we apply blame, the result is always the same, misery and pain. Blame sets up a situation in which there is no hope of escape. We blame someone and then they blame us for our reactions. Suddam was seen as to blame for our misery, and now the US is seen as being to blame for the nightmare of Iraq as it is today. Blame has no end. It’s like the gangsters shooting a gang member in retaliation for the murder of one of their gang. The cycle cannot stop until someone discovers and alternative reaction.

We are mammals, but we do not have to respond with our mammalian brain. We do have an evolved brain capable of higher order thinking. We can see beyond our instincts and choose to behave differently than our mammalian brain would have us. We can choose to learn to take ownership of whatever our part in a conflict may be, to respect the others involved, and to have empathy for the situation of other person. This requires thoughtful consideration and not reflexive action. This requires an understanding of how our defensive mechanisms can fool us into thinking that the only way to survive is with blame.

About The Author

Melody Brooke, MA, LPC, LMFT is an author, motivational speaker, workshop presenter and counselor. Melody holds an MA in Counseling and Guidance from Texas Woman’s University. She is also a Certified Radix Practitioner, Right Use of Power Teacher and InterPlay Teacher. Melody's 19 years work with individuals, couples and families provides her with a unique approach to solving clients’ problems. Her life-altering book, “Cycles of the Heart: A way out of the egocentrism of everyday life”, is based on her experience helping people resolve their relationship difficulties with themselves and others. To find out more about "Cycles of the Heart" go to http:///

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Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:20 am
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