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A good use of blame

Posted by Simon Parke, 16 May 2018, 4.25pm

We will not conflate blame and agency.

Such conflation makes things unclear, when clarity helps.

‘I’m sure she didn’t mean to do it,’ some people say, not daring to blame. And yet they remain shackled by what she did for years!

No blame…yet no agency either.

But both blame and agency are important. Blame for clarity; agency for growth.

We can blame someone for their treatment of us, lay responsibility at their door for what was done; it’s a good place to start.

But we still have agency in the situation; there is life and freedom beyond what was done.

‘My mother is very manipulative,’ says the middle-aged man, accurate in his observation but depressed. He speaks as if he must always play this game.

But just because she manipulated him yesterday, it doesn’t mean he has to allow it today. He has agency in this matter. He can choose to live differently; he can take responsibility for himself.

There is a helpful energy in blame, but by itself, it is not enough.

What someone did to us matters; but what matters more is what we do with it.

We are all victims, but we don’t live in victimhood, because daily, we claim our agency, not as the done-to, but as the growing, on the long road to freedom.

I am not responsible for the behaviour of others towards me; that’s their bag, and it may be a heavy one.

But I am responsible for what I do with it.

In the end, personal blame dissolves not because it didn’t happen, but because we have simply left it behind, left their behaviours behind.

Thank you for coming, thank you for going, as the Swedish say.

We have outgrown it…like a child growing out of their clothes.

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