Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blame

Scott Bradley


It is conveniently cute how name, shame and blame rhyme. Yet the manner in which they are organically connected to one another goes well beyond serendipitous language. Name refers to that vulnerable sense of identity that defines us, and thus requires our constant protective vigilance. Shame is that feeling which arises when those defenses are breached; we have failed to be that which makes us someone worthy in our own eyes and in the imagined eyes of others. Blame is what we do in response; it is the counter-attack by which we attempt to re-enforce that identity in relation to ourselves ("I am better than this.") and others ("I am better than he, she or them.")

Could there be shame without name? Could there be blame without shame? Could I blame you for being in some way unacceptable if I did not already blame myself for the same? Is not blaming others a projection of my blaming myself? Let us hope so; for to believe that I can blame others out of my blamelessness would be for me to be in utter denial. And to be in such denial, though perfectly acceptable, is not perfectly harmonious.

We teach children that to point a finger of blame toward another is to have three more pointing back at us. Do we really believe it? And if we do, why don't we let it teach us?

Philosophical Daoism suggests a kind of universality: Whatever is true of me, is true of you and all other things. What is true of you is also true of me. If I am blameless, then all things are blameless. If I am blame-worthy, then all things are blame-worthy. If I am acceptable, then you and all others are acceptable. If I am forgiven, you are forgiven. If you are forgiven, I am forgiven.

If we wish to call ourselves blame-worthy, then let us in friendship be blame-worthy together. If we wish to call ourselves blameless, then let us in friendship be blameless together. Both are true. To acknowledge the universality of what is true for one as true for the other is harmony.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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