The American naturalist and essayist John Burroughs wrote that;
“You can get discouraged many times, but you are not a failure until you begin to blame somebody else and stop trying.”
Blaming others for our life problems and failures has been an aged long practice. It began from the beginning and it dates back to the time after creation. In the book of Genesis, we read the story of what happened when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, how they instead of accepting and taking responsibility of their actions, ended up blaming each other. The Bible states it thus: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”, Adam responded, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” God then asked him, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Adam responded, “The woman you put here with me she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. God asked Eve, “What have you done?”, Eve said, “The serpent deceived me” (Cf. Genesis 3:8,9).
From the above story, we can see therefore, how Adam and Eve instead of accepting that they have disobeyed and thus humbly ask for forgiveness, then ended up pointing accusing fingers.

Nevertheless, irrespective of whom they claimed to be responsible for their failure to obey, God gave them their merited punishment. In my own opinion, I think God punished them in other for them to learn what it means to be responsible. Thus, one of the lessons we learn from that teaching is on how to be responsible.
I will not forget very fast the words of Christine E. Szymanski who states that “Until you stop blaming others for your unhappy life and take responsibility for it, you will remain the same; the choice is yours.”

We cannot have a positive change and progress if we continue blaming others.
Blaming others for our failure, misfortune or even our mistakes has become a practice by the greater majority of people if not all. It has reached an extent that we have forgotten that we are humans that have the potentials to succeed and also are vulnerable and susceptible to errors, failures and mistakes. Consequently, accepting our failures, errors and mistakes puts us in a good psychological domain for a positive change and it offers us the opportunity to achieve a huge and massive success.
As a human, we must always bear in mind that we are humans and not God or gods. We should know that we cannot be right always and that life cannot be the way we aspire at all times. We must not see prosperity as a do or die affair. We should know that we must not always be successful at all times. Therefore, we should not blame people when things fail to go the way we wished.

Moreover, the best approach to life when in difficulty or when we encounter failure is simply to have a genuine examination of self, both conscience and consciousness. Failures should lead us to genuine introspection and not to frustration and blames. It should lead us to self-examination and not pointing accusing fingers at others.
Suffice it to say that when we become conscious of the ups and downs of life, we should be able to realize that failures and mistakes are possibilities. Such realization will help us eliminate the bad habit of blaming others, and thus, culture us on how to be fully responsible and accountable. It will equally help us to gain experiences just as Bram Stoker will always remind us that “We learn from failure, not from success”.

From the story of Adam and Eve, we can deduce a fact that God created us to be responsible for our lives, that was why he created us alone. We are certain, that we all shall one day die alone, sitting on the judgment seat alone. Therefore, when we take full responsibility and accountability of our life and actions in any situation we might find ourself, the implication is that we are living an authentic life. Thus, living in such a fashion is what Martin Heidegger calls “authentic existence”.

In my seminary days, I could recall one of the assertions usually made by our Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Ukoro Theophilus Igwe, the then Rector of Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, who happens to be our lecturer as well. In one of his lecture days, as he was explaining Martin Heidegger’s “Authentic Existence”, he told us that whenever we feel like blaming others, we should perform a simple exercise; and the exercise is this: “Go go to a very big mirror; the image you see in that mirror when you come in front of the mirror is responsible for all your failures and your successes”. Fortunately or unfortunately, the image we see in the mirror is the image of ourselves. Some people would have preferred to see another image as their real problem.
Hence, we should be aware that, it is only when we take responsibilities of our lives and our actions and not pouring blames to living and non-living things that we can boldly say that we are living an “authentic life”.

The question becomes, therefore, why do we always blame others by making serious effort always to remove ourselves from contributing to our life history especially on failures and misfortune? There are many reasons why we shift blames, but I would like to limit the scope of my discussion to “Religious” and “Psychological Reasons”.
On religious reasons, I would like to term it “Errorneous Religious Indoctrination”. This is a kind of teaching that links every failure or problem to having a spiritual cause. This kind of teaching, exonorates individuals from having a part in their life situation. The danger of this kind of indoctrination is that, every failure will always have a spiritual and evil cause. It boxes in our thinking in such a way that there can never be an opportunity for us to make effort and correct our errors. It reduces our power to pursue success because, we have an already existing notion that every problem we encounter is linked to one devil or one evil spirit.
The society we live in today is one that sees devil everywhere. People see devil in every thing and all times and this devil or evil spirits should be attacked at all times. An understanding like this goes against the true knowledge that God is everywhere. With the above notion that devil is everywhere, the idea of evil manipulation becomes traditional. Some religious ministers are proponents of this teaching. I am quite certain that such teaching is not only erroneous but also a false teaching.
For example, if you preach to a poor person that his money has been stolen in the spirit, how can the person make any effort again towards hard work and life struggle? He definitely will resort to prayer because for such a person, what was taken by the Spirit must be brought back by the spirit. Hence the preacher has indirectly removed the garment of blames on the person for his failure to work hard or for any reason why the person is poor. The person will therefore think always that the devil is the cause of his poverty. I think that this is the kind of mentality that kept Africa in the dark today. We fail to address our problem in the right way. We fail to blame ourselves for our failures, and we have filled our minds with demons and that the demon is the cause of our problem everywhere and at every time.

Furthermore, there is also a psychological cause why people blame others. In psychology, there is what we call “Psychological projection.” Psychological projection is a defence mechanism by which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. We should know that human ego plays a lot of role in the act of blaming.
We blame people sometimes as a subtle way of attacking a person for the wrong things he has done to us.
There is what is called “Complaint Mentality”; it is a constant blaming of everyone around, pointing accusing fingers, criticising everyone while refusing to do something on oneself. It is having the feeling that one is perfect while every other person has a problem and are the cause of the failure or problem we have. Therefore, we should be careful not to have such psychological problems that need urgent attention.

There are some awful trends that we experience today concerning the recipients of our blames. The worst situation we see today is that due to the fact that we have built the bad history of always blaming and shifting our failures, we often times see people blame “Satan”, “demons”, and “evil spirits” for their failures. We blame these beings especially when we have nobody to link our failures and misfortune. We do that probably because we know they are not capable of defending themselves.
Another sad trend of blames are channelled to our forefathers. Others also blame their parents for the difficulties and failures they encounter. We cannot in any way forget the household terminology “village people”. Some think that there are some evil men in the village who are there to cause those in township failures and bad luck. Why do we accuse people unnecessarily and make life miserable for ourselves and others?

A psychological study has shown that blaming is a way to uphold our self-image and protect our self-esteem. When we blame, we feel that our partner is the cause of our relationship problems, our boss in the office is the reasons for our
not been successful, the government is to be blamed for all our failures. Someone or something else is to be blamed. The dangers of blaming is that it allows us to avoid having to look at our own participation and involvement in certain aspects of ourself that conflict with our self-image.
Therefore, why have we not realised that we are the architects of our misfortunes? Even though we cannot remove the very fact of evil manipulations, but in a greater percentage of times, we must accept the fact that we are responsible, and we must accept that in other to find meaningful solutions to our problems.

However, the goal of being responsible and not blaming everyone is to help us be in a better disposition for positive change. Not a kind of responsibility that is arrogant and Supercilious. Such a sniffy attitude would not provide any change in us, rather it beclouds our thinking and puts us in a condition very difficult to accept change. Finally, I pray that God may give us the grace to be more responsible and accountable for our lives and not blaming people for our failures.

Be responsible, be accountable, live an authentic life.

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