[originally published on December 9, 2014]
As human beings, we blame each other. The first two people who ever sinned immediately blamed someone, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the Snake. That reality has dogged human history ever since.
We also build classes, ways that we could discredit people and devalue them (a sort of blaming). These classes exploit each other and attack each other, justifying their own actions by devaluing tose they take advantage of. And, when injustice is done to a people group in a certain historical period, the victims blame the perpetrators until either justice comes or the situation is rectified. This blaming continues for generations, perhaps. Often, people don't blame the long-dead, active perpetrators, but the still-living descendants who benefit from the sins of their class (I say class instead of race because race is arbitrary. All white people are the same? Tell that to the Irish immigrants of the mid-1800's).
I am not here to say we should stop people from blaming. In fact, I would like to say the opposite.
I'm not here to present some woe-is-me victim mentality, and I am not saying everyone uses sweeping generalizations when they talk about a people group. I just want to present a different perspective. If you are actively blamed for something you had no part in, I would ask if you actively or passively disassociate from that event.
Let me explain.
If you see a systemic injustice -- one put in place by the actual perpetrators -- are you doing anything at all to tear it down? There is systemic racism and sexism built into our economic and justice system. I am on the benefitting side on one of these issues, and the losing side on the other. The fact is, there are people who categorize my entire race, who blame me for things that I had no part in, and that my family had no part in. When that happens and I see it, I can get on a high horse and say that I didn't do those things, or I can join them in their fight for justice. As a white person, I benefit at the higher levels from certain types of racism. As a woman, there is a glass ceiling that will make it very difficult for me to get to those upper levels. It is my duty to fight for the victims, to show compassion, to see from the perspective of those who have been wounded. That is what it means to love justice.
Justice anywhere is the beginning of justice everywhere.
I am in a unique position to fight for justice for those that want to blame me. If someone puts the responsibility of a few people's crazy actions on my shoulders, I can yell and fuss and say it's not my fault, or I can accept the position I was born into, and use it to perpetuate change. That's happened at a small level in my life. In Hawaii, I've seen people blame the entire white population for the overthrow, for new hotels, for fancy houses and irresponsible water use, for everything. Fact is, I can say I have nothing to do with it, or I can get involved. Instead of saying I am not to blame, I can make myself blameless by being one of the people that fights for the right thing.
If I do that, I am speaking not only to my character, but to the character of my people, my family, and my God.
Speaking of my God:
Jesus took the sins of the world on his shoulders. He became sin. I am pretty sure that is a clear instruction/example for me, as a Christ-follower, to take the sin I am assigned by blamers in stride. By accepting the group's sins as belonging to me (just as they belong to everyone in the group) I have a uniquely strong platform for change. Think about it. That's how revolution works best: the people who are told they are wrong accept it and change.
Just like everyone else, I was assigned a class at birth, based on my gender and ethnicity, and issues that will dog me for my entire life. I can run, deny, or blame, or I can accept and be a force for change.
I choose change.