The heroin epidemic, the culture wars, a broken jail system, a broken education system, too much corruption in politics at all levels, too much greed, too much anger. As we face this upcoming presidential election that few average people actually want, accusations are flying: This is all the Millennials’ fault, it’s because of liberals/conservatives, it’s because of greedy politicians, it’s because of those who are uneducated/those who are educated, it’s because of sin, it’s because of religion, the arguments never end.
And yet there is a root cause, a common thread among all this: The fault lies with “The Blamers” (yes, I just blamed them), I’ll call them, and they are everywhere and of all ages. Blamers are quick to point fingers, swift to judge and condemn, and slow to apologize. Here a few examples of how Blamers work.
When a certain little boy jumped into the gorilla pen at the Cincinnati Zoo this spring, social media blew up with outrage from Blamers who, knowing almost nothing about the situation, had already tried and condemned the boy, his mother, the zookeepers, and zoo management in what amounted to an online mob-lynching.
Thankfully, there was a good deal of intelligent and thoughtful push-back-commentary from those who actually knew about parenting, and those who realized that accidents sometimes just happen. Where did the vitriol and judgement come from, lamented one popular author via Facebook. Where does it come from? From older people who’ve forgotten what parenting is like, and younger people without kids. It comes from folks with unrealistically high expectations.
The entire year of 2016 has been one diametrically opposed debate after another: guns, drugs, presidential nominees, parenting failures, religion, political parties, ethnic races, wealth status, and more. There is no middle ground allowed on any of these topics. If you propose measures for simple, common sense gun laws, you are labeled a liberal control-freak (is that a contradiction in terms?). If you believe in no restrictions, you are “clearly” responsible for every mass murder in America.
Where does it come from? It comes from people with unrealistically high expectations, either of their own superiority or the banality of others. Blamers, who seem only motivated to avert responsibility away from themselves without ever really thinking about the issues, attempting to compromise, or conceding that the other side might have a point. Whatever it is that’s happening, you need to know it’s not the Blamers’ fault! Is it possible this is a sign of a guilt complex? For, by refusing to talk to all sides, by casting the blame on others so quickly, these problems are never solved and are in fact exasperated. What is it Blamers are so afraid of?
Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:11-13, Blame: The 2nd Original Sin
I follow a few emotional abuse blogs but have become frustrated with the many 20-somethings who seem to think their childhoods were from the pit of hell because their parents were less-than perfect, not because their parents were genuinely abusive. There is real abuse, and emotional abuse is “a thing” but these young adults cannot see that people are multi-faceted, that people can be wrong in one thing and still right in another. These young adults cannot see that sometimes crap just happens and their parents did their best.
Where does it come from? These young adults are not “spoiled”, they have been drilled to think that anything less than perfection (as outlined by their parents/celebrities/authority figures) is simply not trying hard enough. Accidents don’t happen, they are made. These young adults are understandably angry that, after having been held to impossibly high standards by their parents (and often failing and then believing their failures to be an ineptitude of their own selves), they see their parents gave themselves slack when humanly necessary, while never giving their children that same grace.
I have seen first-hand the pressure, the high expectations, the workload of so many students. They are expected to be Straight-A students, scoring high on standardized tests, while also striving to be an athletic or music or science star, while also being in several clubs, while sometimes also holding a part-time job, while also staying positive in mind and healthy in body. These poor kids are crushed under this load, which is meant to pave their way into college, which then in turn is meant to pave their way to a successful (read: money-making) career and easy (read: materialistic) lifestyle.
At the same time, if these kids are not able to handle so much (and who could?) parents turn to labels and/or legal hoops to get their kids out of actually learning. They search until they find a doctor who will affirm a made up “disability”, they hold kids back in school so Johnny will be more competitive as an older child, they push kids forward so Suzie will be more impressive as the youngest child in her grade. If those tactics don’t work, parents can always use their favorite whipping boy: teachers and/or administrators.
Where does it come from, this drive to be “perfect”, the perverse need to be razor-sharp no matter who gets hurt or how deeply? Where does it come from, the arrogance of “knowing” you’re right without having to actually consider all sides, or the hypocrisy of squeezing kids into college so they can be educated, and then promptly dismissing that education with the words, “dumb college kid”?
Claims of police brutality and racism are running rampant, with few actually evaluating each case, preferring instead to draw blanket and sometimes wild conclusions about “the other side”. Two years ago, in a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, a young man was shot by police after a 911 call was made. While verbal shrapnel and blame flew, the long and short of that particular incident was that everyone was wrong, with the exception of other shoppers, one of whom died from fear. The result was protests for months outside Walmart, coupled with fear of retaliation from all parties, anger, and resentment on all sides.
Where does it come from, the fear and anger? Surely there is some truth on both sides, but those great expectations have reared their ugly heads once again, telling lies and causing strife, inciting violence and more agony, where there should be unity and a resolve toward peace.
There are Blamers in every generation and in every culture. At the same time they condemn others for a seeming lack of hard work, Blamers don’t want to do the hard work of taking on proper and personal responsibility for their problems. They just like to watch the world burn, it’s entertaining and invigorating for them. It’s time we stopped listening to the Blamers, and started fixing our country.
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A recent Christian Post article featured a new author and her forthcoming book, When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over, by Addie Zierman.
The author is 30 years old, a mother of two, and a self-described former church “cynic”. She was raised in an evangelical church, participated strongly throughout her childhood, and it appears that in college she ran into some problems personally, and with the church. The article didn’t give much more information, other than to say after a long journey, she came back “home” (began going to church again), so I went to her blog.
Mrs. Zierman and I have a lot in common. We come from the same generation, are in fact the same age, have children, and have struggled with church. She writes much about the lack of true community and transparency in many churches, an issue close to my own heart. Still, I have some serious concerns about this Christian author.
For starters, I wish she wouldn’t use the term “we” when describing her faith journey. She and I don’t have everything in common, after all, and I am perfectly able to speak for myself. One of her underlying assumptions (that maybe she doesn’t even realize) seems to be that only true Christians go to church. This is a manipulative and frustrating assumption that I have dealt with elsewhere in Back to Church?
Me, Myself, and I
Another insinuation that pops up again and again in her writing, is that while faith journeys are messy (because learning is messy) and this is a good thing, at some point you must be honest and recognize that you are hard, sharp, selfish, and angry (I could add “rebellious”) and need to be healed (1). In other words, if you don’t like going to church it is because there is something wrong with you. In one post, she describes our “Generation Me” as “narcissistic and entitled and easily bored” (2). Those are human traits, not generational ones. I also don’t like the phrase, “we’ll find our way home” (3). Perhaps she sees herself as a prodigal, but I do not feel likewise.
I have not “fallen away”, despite my lack of church attendance. Those who know me call me a “Bible thumper”. I know what I am looking for in a church, and it isn’t someone to fight for me, neither is it a new spin on the Bible, or new programs, opportunities, self-help, sound and light shows, or phenomenal leadership. I’m not looking to be impressed, or for someone to assuage my boredom. I’m just looking for real friendship among those who embrace Scripture.
Mrs. Zierman writes that she wanted “healing” to be able to “feel” and hear God again. My spouse has regaled me with many a story about the charismatic churches he was raised in, which espoused the belief that if you “can’t feel God”, there “must” be something wrong with you, like sin. I suspect that Mrs. Zierman doesn’t even see that this is not a Biblical concept, it is so ingrained in those who attend charismatic churches. Rather than trying to “feel His presence”, all you have to do to hear Him and understand Him, is open up a Bible and read.
She has a definite mystic bent in her words, saying she heard “the heart of God” at the same time she heard her son’s heartbeat in the womb (1). In another post she writes,
“The ground spreads wide and uneven beneath me, and all of it is holy. The dew drop is suspended at the edge of the railing. Wonder is the choice to look closer and closer. To stay until the dew becomes a universe, and your heart lurches when you recognize the holy center: the wild love of God.” (2)
That’s poetic, but not Biblical. I really want to like this book, but ultimately all I see is another Ann Voscamp piece, full of adjectives and relatable anecdotes and not much else. “Suds glisten”, writes Voscamp.