It seems like pointing fingers and tossing around blame is pretty common these days. It makes sense wanting to identify a reason or purpose for something unpleasant, but how much of it is truly our individual perspective?
Let me tell you a story to illustrate what I mean.
You Haven’t Changed at All
A friend of mine is a sponsor in AA. He helps a lot of people in a very profound way. Recently, he and I were discussing one of his most promising students. He told me this guy had changed so much in so many ways now that he is not drinking. My friend met with this man to go over his writing. During the discussion this man told my friend that he was upset that his estranged wife has recently said to him, “you haven’t changed at all.”
Both my friend and I both felt an immediate wave of compassion and sadness for the guy. It also colored how we looked at his wife. We instantly blamed her and judged her as a terrible person for not seeing how much he had changed.
Turn of Events
Then an interesting thing happened. My friend needed to reschedule a meeting with this guy. The guy reacted like a petulant child. He scolded my friend and tried to make him feel guilty for cancelling on him. My friend has been driving 40 minutes/one way to see and help this guy for months. The guy does not have a license and cannot drive. At the very least, he ought to have appreciated all my friend has done, but instead it was all about him.
Then a few days later, he used my friend to manipulate his wife into letting him stay another evening at her house. New information also came to light that he had thrown away his sobriety so he could party with his wife. Suddenly it became clear that perhaps our perception of her had been mistaken and this was precisely what she meant about him not having changed. We saw him as good and her as bad and as it turned out, both of them have behaviors that we found difficult to accept.
We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know
It really shows me how limited another person’s understanding of a situation is. First, we saw her as the bad guy and felt bad for him. Then when new information came to light, it was more evident that he was not all that he appeared to be and maybe she was correct. The bottom line is we really don’t know and don’t have the right to judge either one of them.
I think the larger lesson here is before judging anyone else, instead look inward to see where we can fix ourselves and not the other person. It’s easy to blame and pass judgment, but the only person we are truly responsible for is ourselves. Blame is never positive and never solves anything, ever. It’s also a great illustration of how limited our perception can be when we only hear or see part of the story. Its best to let everyone else live their lives and concentrate on ourselves.