These Days when a mistake or wrong takes place in government, in the workplace, even in the family, a common scenario seems to play itself out. With ever-increasing frequency, people play "the blame game." As soon as the misdeed becomes evident, there's an impulsive rush to determine who will shoulder responsibility for it, often accompanied by destructive and demoralizing displays of self-justification, zealous fact-finding, condemnation, partisan bickering, smugness, even glee. In the case of high-profile news stories, such an issue can take on a life of its own, dominating the airwaves as opposing sides jockey for the best sound bite and seek opportunities to claim the moral high ground.

This isn't by any means to suggest that wrongdoing should go unaccounted for, or that the system of justice should cease to play its vital role in today's society. But because it is not well-intentioned, the blame game shouldn't be part of the process. It doesn't serve any meaningful function in dispensing justice, and those who devote their energies to playing it are actually diverting attention from constructive solution-finding.

It's important to distinguish between the diligent rectification of misdeeds and the mere casting of blame. When mistakes or scandals surface, are we, as direct participants or concerned onlookers, seeking to be healers or dividers? Making a reality of evil and then pinning its label on another is not productive—and not what Christianity teaches. The rush to blame, litigate, prosecute, judge, and condemn may only indicate a mean-spirited anger operating below the surface of society, a turmoil of self-interest and sensationalism that points toward what really needs attention.

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November 20, 2006

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