“Misplacing blame makes change and solutions impossible. Place blame where it lies.” ~Lisa Merlo-Booth
Our world is dangerously backward when it comes to the concept of blame:
- Victims are to blame for the actions of perpetrators
- Children are blamed for a parent’s rage
- Employees are said to be responsible for setting the culture in companies
- Women are hailed as responsible for the violence of men
- The betrayed are to blame for the affairs of their partners
And on and on.
As long as individuals, teams, and cultures continue to misplace blame, it will continue to break marriages, tear families apart, implode companies, and make nations increasingly unsafe. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t accurately identify the source of that problem.
- Blaming rape on how women dress ignores the fact that men rape young children, women, and men in every type of clothing imaginable. You could have every woman and child dressed in hijabs or burqas in the entire world, and it will not stop men from raping. You have misidentified the problem—the sexual violence of men.
- Blaming employees for setting the culture for companies ignores the role of those who own that company. Sexual harassment and bullying cannot thrive in a company unless you also have leadership and complicity problems. Bullying and sexual harassment thrive in cultures where employers allow it to grow. The individuals doing the bullying and harassing are responsible for those behaviors, while the owners are to blame for enabling a culture of bullying and harassment.
- Blaming women for men’s violence enables men to become more violent. The vast majority of violent crimes against women and others are at the hands of men. We will never tackle this issue until parents, schools, governments, and our world recognize this truth. The only person ever to blame for violence—is the person being violent.
Accurately placing blame is very clear cut: the person who did the behavior is responsible for that behavior. There is no tricky algorithm or complex theory regarding culpability. Don’t make it complicated. When someone cheats–they did so because they CHOSE to cheat–not because their partner caused them to cheat. If your co-worker sexually harasses you—they did so because they CHOSE to—not because you “asked” for it. If your partner goes into a rage—s/he became unsafe because s/he CHOSE to do so—not because you “made” them angry.
Be deliberate and precise about accurately placing blame where it lies—every time.
- Get clear on blame.
- Refuse to misplace blame anywhere in your life, and don’t buy into it when others do it either.
- Listen for victim-blaming in your head and the words of others.
- Don’t be complicit when victim-blaming happens.