We must be conscious of where we place blame
Published: Monday, January 7, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 7, 2013 21:01
Coming back to our familiar world of school will be an interesting transition after this winter break. Not only do we have the usual rehabilitation of studying we so blissfully forgot about, but some major events happened during those four weeks.
Two major shootings occurred, in Oregon and Connecticut respectively in time. Not even a week apart, and millions of Americans were left in shock and dismay over the deaths of both children and adults.
I’m almost sure I won’t be the first or last person to write a column referencing these events, but I also don’t want to drone on about gun control, as most of the attention seems to address. In fact, it’s exactly that mentality I want to talk to about, instead of blaming others.
As a child, I was always taught to take responsibility for my actions, and to own up to my mistakes. While often difficult, it was clearly the right thing to do. I quickly learned, while in the short run it seemed like the harder option, in the long run it always made things easier for everyone involved.
When a major incident like this happens, the first reaction of the American people is to ask themselves, “Who and/or what was responsible for this occurrence?” Almost never, in my 25 years of life, have I heard that question answered, “We all are.” But you know what? We are all responsible anytime something like this happens.
Before you get defensive, please hear me out.
The first thoughts going through your head are probably in the realm of, “How am I at fault for this? I’m not a killer, and I don’t even know these people.”
It all begins with the idea of a society. As individuals, we make up a society— in our case a society of Americans. Naturally, we’re identified as a part of this group. But when it comes to a negative issue of society, we immediately separate ourselves and place the blame outward. This doesn’t work. We can’t selectively be a part of a group; we’re either part of it or we’re not.
Even worse than blaming others for these issues is blaming inanimate objects. Blaming the guns for a school shooting is like blaming the iron for burning you when you touch it. It’s the most illogical conclusion you can come to.
As people, we make choices. And whether we like it or not, our choices are affected by our environment. If someone feels like his or her only option is to kill people, no matter how irregular their brain chemistry is, there is something wrong with their environment.
It’s easy to conclude we should just blame the parents. This isn’t right, as parents don’t have complete control over a child’s environment. Even if they did, their parenting is still affected by what they’ve learned from their own environment while growing up.
The Blue Review recently published a narrative blog from Liza Long, a mother of a child with mental illness. In it, she sympathizes with every parent of a child with mental illness, titling her narrative, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.”
She writes, “No one wants to send a 13-year-old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options.”
Now all we’re left to do is blame society. But notice she used the words “our” and “us” As I pointed out both earlier in this column, and in a previous column I wrote entitled, “Society not to blame for our problems,” as a part of society, you are just as much to blame as everyone else. Not only as a part, but as an individual, you are the most powerful tool in affecting and improving your society.
There is something to be said about the perils of always placing the blame on one’s self. Grieving parents often want to blame themselves for their child’s death, and are encouraged not to in order to move forward. The idea here isn’t to remove the blame completely, but instead to relieve the weight of exclusive fault that makes the parent(s) feel as though they’ve been wronged.
We need to stop playing the victim. We need to take responsibility for our actions and our society. If something isn’t right, we all need to come together to figure out how to change it. You can even apply this to your day-to-day school life. If you’re struggling in a class, don’t blame the teacher, but don’t completely blame yourself either. Instead, take responsibility for your grade, and address your struggle with the teacher. As humans, we must work together to solve problems.
Alexander Vervloet is a senior in communications. The opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Vervloet can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Rantsweekly.