When I was very young, my father said to me: “A person can learn a lot more with their mouth closed than they will ever learn with their mouth open.”
I have tried to follow that advice over the years, and I’m thankful I did. One of the most powerful things I learned actually came from my son, James, many years ago. We were discussing a family relative who seemed to have nothing but bad luck, constantly. James observed: “When you blame someone else for your problems, you lose control of the problem. You can no longer fix it, because you didn’t create it, and the person, or company, or school, or church that you blame likely has no interest in solving your problems for you. When you accept responsibility, then you control the problem, and have a chance to fix whatever is wrong.”
I mention this because I have seen a profound change in Canadian society over the last 50 years, a change that has been fostered by all levels of government. Their message to all Canadians has so often been “No matter what happens to you, it’s not your fault!” Every day, whether it’s on television, social media, or in public, I hear examples of people blaming a massive group of entities for their problems. They blame whites, blacks, natives, Asians, men, women, the young, the old, the rich, the poor, the East, the West, companies, unions, schools, churches, celebrities, immigrants, politicians, athletes, Russians, Chinese, Muslims, Catholics, Jews, scientists, doctors, dentists, lawyers, and hundreds of other individuals and groups. The blamers are also condemning these problem creators. You’ve heard the labels applied: racists, homophobes, Islamophobes, misogynists, sexists, or just plain old evil. Well, I have one piece of advice for those who blame others for their problems: if you expect these entities to solve your problems for you, it’s probably a really bad idea to insult them at the same time.
In the comic strip Pogo, cartoonist Walt Kelly once wrote; “We have met the enemy and he is us”.
While it’s possible that some problems are created by others, I think the truth is that the vast majority of our problems are of our own creation. If we can simply accept responsibility for this fact, then we have taken back the power we need to fix these problems, and we are on the way to living better, and living happier. We need to quit listening to governments (or anyone else who claims it’s not our fault), and start listening to ourselves. If this is my problem, then how I can fix this problem? You may not solve them all, but I promise you that those you have blamed will solve absolutely none of your problems for you.
In the Bible, (John 8:32), we are told “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” While I would never argue with biblical wisdom, I have often wished that John had said “You shall know you are responsible, and your responsibility shall set you free.” Of course, if truth is also responsibility, then John got it right the first time.
It really is up to you, and accepting this fact unleashes, within you, a power that will change your life.
Brian McLeod is a St. Albert resident.