October 1993 – One hot afternoon a few weeks back I was in our front yard pitching the ball to my four-year-old son Wesley while he tried to hit the ball with his bat. He loves for me to play ball, any kind of ball, with him. I would toss the ball from 10 feet or so and he would swing just as hard as he could, but time after time would miss the ball. After 15 minutes or so I looked at Wesley—knowing that he had hit the ball well the last time we played—and asked, “What’s the problem? Why can’t you hit the ball?”
Immediately, and with a “how dare you ask me that” tone in his voice,Wesley replied: “You not (that’s right, ‘you not’) throwing the ball where the bat is.” (Not a bad comeback from a four-year-old, I thought.)
Why is it that we human beings have such a difficult time taking responsibility for our own actions? Why do we have such a hard time accepting blame when we do something wrong or when something we attempt fails? Passing the buck is as old as the garden of Eden.
In Genesis chapter three Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate fruit from the forbidden tree. Now, the scriptures say Eve gave the fruit to Adam and he ate it. Adam could have said no to Eve. But he chose to say yes. Adam was responsible for his own disobedience, yet when the Lord confronted him the Bible records Adam’s response: “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” A l990s American male might answer the Lord this way: “Yeah, I ate it, but this woman you put here with me (finger pointing) made me do it. If you want to blame somebody, blame her and leave me out of it.”
I didn’t have to teach Wesley how to blame someone else. It came naturally.
Often, instead of just ‘fessing up when we goof up, mess up, blow it or—dare I say it—sin, we just find someone or something to blame. You do, I do, we all do.
This mindset has had devastating effects on the American family. The August 30, 1993 edition of Newsweek magazine has a picture of a seven-year-old black boy with the words, “A world without fathers: The struggle to save the black family.” These young men—and sometimes not so young—who are responsible for these children are shirking their responsibility or blaming someone for why they aren’t fathering and providing for their children as they should. This and other problems caused by irresponsibility happens all to often among white men as well.
I am certainly not saying circumstances, environment and other outside forces aren’t factors—sometimes major factors—in the problems our society faces and reasons why individuals do things that are wrong and irresponsible. But what I’m saying is that we need to be more willing to say so when we’re wrong and accept responsibility—or blame—when we should. One day we will all stand before God and there will be no shirking, no blaming and no running away from our own lives.
Well, I guess Wesley will learn more clearly how to accept responsibility in a couple of years when he swings and misses three times in a real game, and the umpire yells, “Strike three, you’re out!” and sends him back to the dugout. In the meantime dear old dad will work on him as the Lord God works on me.