We live in a very blaming society. When something goes wrong, we find someone at whom we can point the finger. Even accidents, which we called accidents for a reason and not on-purposes, we find someone to blame.
I live in Durban, South Africa, and recently there was a horrific truck accident on one of our long, winding hills. Unfortunately, 23 people died, five vehicles were destroyed: awful! The first thing society did was point the finger. The general public is blaming government, government is blaming the driver, other people are blaming the truck company, and so it goes on and on. Can you see why politicians pass the buck? If they didn’t they would get into a lot of hot water just for making a mistake, because many of us would point a finger at them and ask for blood and their heads. All this for an accident… Let’s face it accidents and mistakes are very human. Does all this blaming really help society though? What about areas like parenting?
We can no longer deny that our world is facing some major problems. I listened to Brene Brown on a TED talk. She sums up our current situation rather well: “We are the most in debt, most obese, most addicted, most medicated, adult cohort in history.” (Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability – very interesting – go watch if you have some time) I could write pages and pages on each of the four topics mentioned, and many people do. Yet we are still trending that way. In addition to this, many of our problems start in childhood. It’s not always the case, but we can’t deny the huge impact that parents have on their children. This is usually the point where people get defensive, get their backs up and start to blame. Sadly, human beings can’t really learn when in this state of mind. Thus, our opportunities to pick up something new can be severely lessened. Fortunately, I don’t want to talk about mistakes or blame anyone. Rather I want to talk about how we can shift the way we view this stuff, so we can get into a space where we can learn something new. What if it’s not your fault…?
Before we start looking at how we can shift this, we need to dig a little deeper into, why do we want to shift this? I woke up one morning and saw that one of my car’s tires was a little flat. Busy lifestyle, so I decided, no, no, it’s only a little bit flat so I’m not going to change it now. I’ll drive to a garage close to work, leave it there, and get someone to pick me up. By the time I got to the garage, all the air had leaked out the tire and I was now riding on the wall of the tire. I had completely ruined it. Instead of being able to repair it, I had to buy a new tire.
When we don’t deal with problems, life has a way of making them bigger until we have no choice but to deal with it. How many of us have seen a little water leaking out the toilet. We think its okay; it will be fine until next week; I’m too busy to call a plumber now. We put a towel down to mop up the water (like putting a band-aid on a stab wound). By next month, we still haven’t done anything about it. Now the pipe has completely burst and we’re yelling out, “Why! Why me! What did I do to deserve this?” See how the problem gets bigger when we don’t attend to it. Not many of us have been taught to think in this way though. We learn math and science until we can take no more, but rarely does anyone teach us about life… The point is, if we don’t start taking a serious look at the problems I mentioned above, they are going to get bigger. The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2020, the leading cause of disability in the world will be depression. What if your child is heading down the path towards depression: would you do something about it?
If you think about it, we’ve grown up in a very tempestuous time. Let’s look at human beings over the years. The Stone Age lasted a very long time, many thousands of years ago. To them technology was the wheel, fire and simple tools. Then we moved into the Bronze Age and started to become ‘civilized’. That lasted more than 2000 years. The next big age was the Iron Age. We created alphabetic characters and with that written language in the form that we recognize today. That lasted a little under 2000 years.
Look at us today. New information and technologies hit the shelves and TV screens every day. There are messages coming at us from all directions, all the time. TV and internet are constantly bombarding us with images of how we should be, what we should do, what’s cool. Reality is; it all has an effect on us. TV has become a ‘role model’. We are told that it’s a good thing because some people have an agenda. I’m not talking about conspiracy theories; it’s their job, that’s how they earn a living. However, think about some of the stuff that we see on TV. The point is we haven’t yet had time to adjust to everything.
Change used to be a slow process. We still use a lot of our old world programming in today’s very sophisticated world, and that’s confusing for us. Let me give you an example. Gambling and risk taking used to be a very desirable quality to possess. If you never took a risk and tried to catch a wild animal, or eat a berry or root that you hadn’t seen before, you may not have eaten. If you don’t eat, you’ll die. Certainly, with food, this isn’t the case today. We can go to a butcher or grocer and get a month’s worth of food without much hassle. Despite this, how many people in our society still feel the need to gamble and take risks? Have you ever seen a poor casino…? That habit (gambling) is feeding that old world programming. So let’s face it, this is a confusing and tempestuous time for human beings.
In this new world of ours, we’ve picked up a few other bad habits. The one I’ll pick on for now, out of many, is simply our ability to say ‘no’. I know I’m not alone in this; sometimes I get that ‘feeling’ that I can’t say no to someone. I’m talking about people such as the pushy sales person. At some of our local malls, we have people who sell various over-priced creams and ‘beauty’ products. They don’t have a store; they actually have a booth in the middle of the walkway. They ‘bother’ every person that walks past; they try to push their product on them. You should see how many people have started avoiding those sections of the mall just to hide and dodge these sales people, just because they don’t have the power to politely say ‘no’, anymore. How many people reading this have experience something similar? You can’t say no to the insurance salesperson who has just called. Instead, you tell who ever answered the phone, “Just tell them I’m not here.” The saddest part is, we actually teach this to sales people and give awards to the ones who do it the best. What are we saying to our society: well done for being the best at manipulating others…? What I want you to get for now is, we’ve picked up some bad habits.
To conclude, I want to reiterate, you aren’t a bad person because you don’t know what you don’t know. Even if no one is to ‘blame’ though, we still need to acknowledge the facts. We need to start opening up as a society so that we can deal with the things we do that aren’t beneficial to us, because the facts are we are the most in debt, most obese, most addicted, most medicated society ever recorded, and it’s not going to change until we do something about it. I know it’s difficult for parents to hear that often children’s problems today, started when they were kids. The implication of course, is that you did something wrong, and it’s your fault and you are to blame. This is not true! You aren’t a bad parent because maybe you made some ‘mistakes’.