Remember back in grade school on that day that you did not do your homework? When asked for it, you knew you quickly had to come up with a creative excuse. So you blurted out the most credible excuse you could imagine at the moment. “I did it, but the dog ate my homework.”
Now if you were the teacher’s pet, a sycophant, you might have been believed just once. But unless it was the teacher’s first year, most of us would have been caught in the obvious lie. For, were the truth told, we didn’t do the homework, we were busy playing sand lot baseball with the neighborhood crew instead. The teacher might have pointed out that whatever happened to the homework was of no consequence. Whether the dishwasher, your kid sister, or the dog ate it was of no consequence. What mattered was the objective reality that the homework was due and you did not have it. On that day we might have learned that excuses, no matter how carefully crafted, really don’t let us off the hook for what we have done, or for what we have left undone.
Some years later, I had the occasion of visiting a mental health facility. Prominently placed over the reception/intake desk was a sign: blaming behavior is not an indicator of good mental health.
As we approach this 4th of July celebration, I am suddenly aware of how much blaming behavior there is in our contemporary culture. Republicans blame Democrats. Democrats blame Republicans. The President blames Congress. Congress blames the President. Everybody blames somebody else and uses those poor choices of others as an excuse for the poor choices of their own. More than disgusting, it is morally outrageous.
For years our country has demonstrated the record of taking the moral high-ground as an aspect of our leadership in the world. The Revolutionary War was about the inalienable right of the freedom of humans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Civil War claimed the moral high ground to end slavery. WWI was supposed to be the war to end all wars; and WWII was as response of humanity to genocide and totalitarianism. In all these instances, the United States exercised leadership as a champion of high ideals and high moral values. In the wake of the recent news, day by day it is becoming more difficult for us to claim that high ground.
I am sure that we would all like to make America great. I guess the question is what is your definition of greatness? My definition of greatness includes not wasting time on blaming behavior. Mine includes stepping up to the plate to deal with issues pro-actively and cooperatively. Mine includes striving for workable compromise rather than polarization. Mine includes asking what is the right thing and doing the right thing. Mine includes morality.
Pray for our country.