I'm working on a review of research done on the topic of Blame.
Tonight a couple came in to the restaurant, my last table, and had some conversation and dinner. They started out nice and polite, laughing a bit and being sociable.
After a while the conversation (as I heard in bits and pieces only while I walked past) turned to your vs. my method of relating to so-and-so.
By the end of the meal it was nothing but an argument for the sake of arguing. It was like they had got so used to arguing that it was all they had. They were constantly looking for the other's faults and mistakes – trying to get the other to slip up in some way: "But you just said you hate when people do that." And then "I never would have done _____ if you hadn't done/said _______." "You shouldn't have to _____ you should know____."
I have no idea what the content of their conversation was, but it was obvious in a few words that it was delivered through blame, anger, defensiveness, and the desire to hurt the other more than you had just been hurt.
And neither of them would stop. Neither of them was willing to accept blame for anything. And when confronted would fight tooth and nail to re-aim the 'fault' to the other person, while simultaneously looking for the tiniest flaw to dwell on – thereby avoiding fixing the problem. It was like some horrible tennis game where the ball is some sort of black tar that spatters each time it is hit, coating the combatants in sticky black gunk. Whatever it was they started out talking about, they ended with nothing but attacks at each other.
It's just a friendly game till somebody gets spattered with the tar-ball.
Hey, you spattered me.
It wouldn't have got you if you had just played like you're supposed to.
If I remember correctly you're the one who taught me this game.
Just cause I taught you doesn't mean you learned right.
Maybe if you had been a better teacher.
and so on.
Anyway, just before 11, I decided I wanted to go. I asked them to pay their bill so I could go help my fiancee move some stuff into the apartment.
"Oh, you help your fiancee? Of course we could help you out for that. You help the woman you love."
"I bet she even appreciates it. Doesn't she?"
*aggressive signing of generous tip*
Somewhere, people fall into destructive patterns. They stop trying to fix the problems that we all come across every day, and instead try to console themselves by saying "It's not my fault. It's yours."
And as soon as you say it out loud, you're stuck with it. You've committed yourself to a position and it takes some serious humility to say, afterwards, that "I was wrong, and yes it really is my fault." Do you know anybody with that kind of humility?
Maybe it would be better, considering our glaring lack of humble, to just avoid blaming, and dwelling on the faults of other people, and instead just try to fix the problems that we come across.