Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Blame Game

Jose Luiz Garza died of heart failure in Mexico yesterday.  He was 47 years old and weighed 990 pounds.  He had always struggled with his weight, but got much worse when he fell into a deep depression nine months ago when his parents died of old age.  He went on Mexican television, begging for help.  Emergency workers had to knock down a wall of his house and haul him off to the hospital on the back of a pick-up truck while gasping for breath, but was pronounced dead on arrival. His brother mournfully accused those who heard his pleas for help, that he would still be alive had they come to his rescue sooner.

Poor Jose Luiz.  I am truly sorry that he died, and the way that the Associated Press wrote the article, I'm sure many are shaking their heads and saying, "What is this world coming to that we would allow this poor man to suffer so?"  

But the question I want to ask is, why are "we" being blamed for his bad health choices, as if we represent all the evils of society?  Where was his brother all these years as he piled on the pounds?  It's not like this was some rare incurable disease, it was perfectly preventable. But when it all comes down to it, Jose Luiz Garza, chose to react to his problems and his losses in a way that cost him his life.  He swallowed all those tamales and burritos, and nobody else. Calling for help as he was going into cardiac arrest at 990 pounds was too little, too late. Sorry, but it's the cold hard truth.

This is something that I don't get.  It's always someone else's fault.  If a poor country is struggling with it's finances, it blames the richer ones for not giving it more financial aid.  If a richer country invests its businesses in a poorer one, it's blamed for interfering and taking advantage of the less fortunate.  If someone of a minority group (choose one) can't get a loan to buy a house, it's the fault of greedy banks who won't give them a chance to live in comfort like the rest of the country.  But if that same person goes bankrupt because they can't afford to pay their mortgage, its the fault of the greedy banks who should have known better than to give them the loan in the first place.  And if anyone points the finger at the irresponsible person, he or she screams "Racist!"

It's downright idiotic, but we all are guilty of this I'm ashamed to say.  If we think we can get away with blaming anyone - specific people or society in general, whatever works - we'll do it. It's so popular to hold ourselves up to be the poor victim, to gain the pity of others, that we'll gladly ignore facts so that we can continue on with our charade.  It feels so much better than admitting our own guilt, and people start doing stuff for us because we make them feel guilty instead.  

One thing I enjoy when I counsel people in our church is when I help them take responsibility for their own life and stop acting like victims.  They can finally leave their past behind and focus all their attention on fighting their problems and believing in their future.  It's amazing to see their transformation when they really do it.

The sad thing is that of all those I have counseled over the years, too few are willing and humble enough to take that step.  Many women have come to me with the saddest of stories of abuse or trauma, telling me that they want so desperately to be free.  But when they're challenged to forgive and to stop feeling sorry for themselves, only a fraction of them have proven that they really wanted to be free.  The rest slowly disappear with one excuse or another.  Maybe I couldn't understand their pain enough, maybe I was being too harsh.  Even after dedicating hours, being a shoulder to cry on and always giving them words of comfort and faith, they held onto their right to blame others for their suffering, like it was the only thing that kept them alive.  

I guess we shouldn't be surprised, Adam and Eve were the first to pull that trick (But he made me do it!)  We've got their nature, and as millennia have gone by, we've has just gotten more sophisticated in using it to our advantage.  Those women walked out of my life just as miserable as they came in; just more aware of the fact that they already had the power to change their lives if they chose to humble themselves.  But just like Mr. Garza, they preferred to cling to the very thing that was destroying them and in so doing they've chosen a long, slow painful death.  Sorry, but that's the cold hard truth.



Anonymous said...

This is what I truely call the 'blame game'. I was speaking about this on the radio recently, that many people like to blame others for their faults, mistakes, past and the list goes on. Instead, they should take a cold hard look at themselves and assume responsibility for their actions. If they do this, they will always find reasons to improve their life rather than point the finger to others.

Very true Evelyn, very true indeed.

Maura Carolina Olivera said...

I think I have used this trick too much. "It is not my fault", "I can´t do it", "I can´t", "He doest deserve it". It sickens even myself, my own attitude. But no more of that for me.