We Should Remove the Word Blame from our Vocabulary

We should stop using the word blame. Not just as a linguistic sleight of hand, but as way of changing our thinking.

I’m driving on a busy road and I need to drop into a shop very quickly. I park my car outside of the shop with the keys in it and dash in. I dash out a few minutes later and the car has been stolen. Who is to blame? Is it me for leaving the car unlocked? Is it the thief? Is it the car manufacturer for allowing me to leave the keys in the car? Is it the police for not being around when they’re needed?

We should instead use the term ‘responsibility’. I have a responsibility to be aware that my car could be stolen if I leave the keys in it; the thief must take responsibility for stealing the car; etc.

Blame is disempowering. If we say that someone else is to blame than we have no power to change things ourselves. We are dependant on someone else changing. Responsibility is empowering. I can change what I’m responsible for.

Unfortunately, blame is the keyword for the 21st Century. When people talk about taking action, they are not really taking action, they are protesting that someone else (who is to blame) should change.

As a counsellor, one of the issues I deal with is bullying in children. I rarely (if ever) see the bully. I see the bullied child that the parents bring in because they are anxious or not going to school. I teach strategies so the bullied child is no longer bothered by the bully and invariably the bully (or bullies) leave them alone. I’ve been accused of ‘blaming the victim’.

I’ve seen online posts by women who criticise other women for doing martial arts as self defence as it ‘blames the victim’.

Apparently, women should be meek and simply protest that other people should change.

I saw a video of a woman cyclist in London who was chasing after a van driver. When she caught up with him she hurled abuse and tore off his wing mirror. I assumed this was a case of a careless van driver throwing a cyclist off her bike. On reading the comments I realised that the van driver had cat-called the cyclist. Many of the commentators were of the opinion that that men did this to assert control over women and she was fighting back. Actually, I saw it as a weak women who was so insecure in herself that she let a man control her simply by making a sound. She blamed the man. I thought the woman should have taken responsibility for what she could control. Real strength would have been to ignore it.

The world is as it is — not how you want it to be. Empower yourself. It is ironic that the the women’s movement talks about empowering women but actually disempowers them by blaming everyone else. When people (and obviously not just women) protest, they are blaming someone else and removing their own ability to change.

By Philip Braham on July 26, 2018




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