Those with any interest in Northern Irish political satire will know the name Tim McGarry, probably better known as Da from Give My Head Peace, a member from The Hole in the Wall Gang and the host of The Blame Game.
The Blame Game is a comedy panel show where comedians offer answers to the general public on who should be blamed for certain things. For example, who do you blame for the flag protests? Who do you blame for binge drinking? Who do you blame for the “Stroke City” problem? And so on.
At the end of each show the host, Tim McGarry, delivers his tag line:
‘And remember, don’t blame yourselves. Blame each other’.
This tag line sums up the attitudes of many people in today’s culture.
Take our politics for instance. The recent Haass talks have failed to deliver an agreement, who is to blame? The DUP say that Sinn Fein is to blame as they have written a document that suits them and them alone. Sinn Fein say that the DUP are to blame because they won’t compromise on particular issues.
However, it isn’t just Northern Irish politics that suffers from this. Westminster is equally guilty.
Who do we blame the banking crisis on? Labour say that the banking crisis happened on the Tories watch, therefore they are to blame. Tories say that the banking crisis wouldn’t have happened if Labour did a better job when they were in power, thus they should be blamed.
This isn’t just something that politicians suffer from though. We too suffer from it.
When we find ourselves in difficult situations very rarely do we blame ourselves. Often when we are in difficult situations we are very quick to find someone else to blame. Issues that need resolved are never our fault they are always someone else’s mess.
Others are always to blame and so they should be fixing my problems!
The funny (yet tragic) thing is this is how life has been progressing ever since the beginning.
Back in the Garden after Adam and Eve sin, God finds them and asks, ‘Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ (Gen. 3:11). Adam’s response is, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree’ (Gen. 3:12). The women whom you gave to be with me.
Adam removes himself from the situation altogether. This woman, the one you made, is to blame, so it’s really your fault.
Adam was the first to play the blame game – but he was not the last…
In Galatians 6:5 we are told, ‘each will have to bear his own load’.
One day everyone will have to take responsibility for their own actions – for some Christ will intercede and bear that responsibility, but for others they will have to bear that responsibility themselves.
However, wouldn’t it be refreshing if people took responsibility of their own actions now? Wouldn’t it be pleasant to see people stand up, own their blame and really mean it?
If we think that would be refreshing, well, watch the finger turning round to point at us. Who have we been blaming? Who have we been pointing the finger at?
None of us are perfect – we are all sinners and therefore we all sin. This means that just like Adam and Eve we have sinned against God, and so we must own up to that. Confess to God we have sinned against him. Adam and Eve did not only sin against God though, they also sinned against each other. As we have sinned we have not only hurt God, but we have hurt others – family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, even those who are not Christians.
So can we stop blaming our upbringing, our circumstances, our fatigue, our home life, our church? Can we resolve to own up to our mistakes, take the blame for what we have done and stop playing the blame game?
Now, that’s not to say our upbringing, circumstances and home life don’t exert a great influence over us, they do. However, we are still responsible for our actions, and when we own our blame we honour Christ and show love to those around us.
Not everyone will buy into this; after all it is easier to blame others. This can be especially true in our churches – perhaps we would be the only one owning our blame. But, ‘it’s time we stopped complaining about the culture of our churches and started leading within them’ (Chandler, Patterson & Geiger, pg. 159, Creature of the Word). If we stand up and own our blame the church would be a very refreshing place to be.