Not my Fault Playing the Blame Game by Blaming Society rather than Taking Responsibility

Everyone has heard of the “blame game”. Everyone has at one point or another engaged in it. Perhaps some have come to regret it. Hopefully, most have overcome the tendency. The opposite is to admit when one is at fault and accept responsibility for one’s actions. It is the adult thing to do, but some go on and blame others for their problems.

There are many targets of blame as well, but the root causes are the same.  Worse, if they do not overcome these tendencies, they will fail at many important endeavors and probably affect others as they do so.

On the site MindTools is the article “Helping People Take Responsibility”. It gives the example of “Jim”, who constantly misses deadlines due to procrastination, yet he is always ready to blame another team member. “Jim’s behavior has a significant negative impact on the team. People don’t want to work with him; and they resent his apathetic attitude and his unwillingness to change his behavior.”

Some of the reasons MindTools lists for such behavior range from laziness to fear of failure. Perhaps it is a feeling of being overwhelmed that causes them to seek out a scapegoat. Regardless, they will fail themselves and fail their teams as long as they engage in this behavior rather than own up to the problem and take steps to correct it.

In the HuffPost article “Why Do You Blame?” by Dr. Margaret Paul, we see two examples of blaming that brings about anger. It is a mechanism that covers up the feeling of powerlessness and helplessness. At the end of the day, blaming another almost always is a reaction to the feeling of being unable to control one’s circumstances. As long as the person never moves beyond that feeling of the lack of control, they will be tempted to blame others for their situation in order to cover up their own inadequacies and/or find meaningful solutions.

In a Psychology Today article about “Stop Playing the Blame Game”, author Dr. Elliot D. Cohen goes over the irrationality of the blame game. One belief in the game is that “If something has gone wrong (or is not the way it should be), then someone other than myself must be identified and blamed for causing the situation.” Yet, that ignores the fact that many problems are not necessarily the fault of any person. He uses the example of the husband who blames his wife for getting sick. However, just because one event follows another does not necessarily mean cause and effect. “The fallacy is classic but it’s a lot easier to cast blame than to be scientific. The blame game is a breeding ground for unscientific, unsupportable blame claims!”

At the core, this is the problem. The blame game is one of emotions. Those engaging in the blame game do not want to allow facts to get in the way of their feelings. Rather than learning from past mistakes and growing personally, rejecting responsibility is perceived to be easier and to avoid the pain of bruising the ego. Unfortunately, instead of avoiding pain, this type of behavior actually prolongs it and causes new pain along the way. The emotionally mature person will begin to recognize their ego-protecting behavior and will try to get to the root cause and find a solution in order to protect themselves and others from pain in the future.

However, only some people resort to blaming others immediately around themselves. That tends to alienate people. It causes hurt in relationships. So, many will instead blame larger and ill-defined entities instead in order to shift the blame in an illogical attempt to avoid further pain upon themselves or the others close to them. Such popular targets are society, the government, a particular race of people, a particular social class, those of a particular ideology (communists, capitalists, conservatives, liberals, etc.) or those of a particular religion.

Government is a particularly popular target, but that is not totally without cause. It can be blamed by conservatives, liberals, libertarians and independents of all slices of ideology. In fact, politics is the one arena where the blame game apparently is the one sport that all have in common. The left blames the right, the right blames the left, and the middle blames both.

However, what is government? Government is simply one institution of a society, and it is a rather important one at that. Not much says more about a society than how it will decide to conduct itself and punish those who do not comply. By politicians, who are supposed to be professional leaders of government, exhibiting such bad behavior, it bleeds through society as a whole and encourages others to take up the blame game as well. Ironically, that blame is often a backlash against the politicians’ own games.

It solves nothing. No one can truly completely control another person. Even slaves were known to run away. The only real center of control is within one’s own self, and even that has its own limits. Acknowledging one’s own limits and strengths is the beginning to determining how to deal with a particular issue or solve a particular problem. Otherwise, the problem or issue will most likely continue to surface in one form or another, causing further disruption along the way.

Society may be large and amorphous, but even it can be changed with enough effort and support from others. A person blaming society for all of one’s ills is only slightly better off than if they were to blame others immediately around them. It still does not solve the problem at hand. It only gives an excuse to do nothing about it.