Monday, October 8, 2012

It's All Your Fault

You have a bad credit score because your bank is evil.

You failed the test because you have a bad teacher.

You’re messed up because your parents didn’t give you enough attention.

Nothing is your fault. Life is just a b*tch.

               As valid as some of these claims may be in several scant cases, they can generally be thrown aside along with the other hundred excuses that we hear every day of the week. Many things we blame others for are either directly our fault or could have been avoided if we had put in any effort to stop them.
               The truth is, we loooove to not be responsible for our own actions. It’s just so much easier to find a scapegoat for everything that goes array than consider that we had any role to play in it. Maybe you just didn’t pay your bills on time. Maybe you stayed up playing Halo instead of memorizing the presidents. However, that’s not a side we like to take. The ability to blame others is like a grand release from the stress of having to fix the problem at hand because you are no longer the cause of it.  It also becomes acceptable to release any and all frustration with your current situation on the ‘true’ cause of the problem.  It’s alright if your grades continue to plummet, because your teacher is stupid and you can hate him/her for not knowing how to teach. It’s alright if you didn’t get into college because your parents didn’t motivate you enough, and you’re allowed to hate them too.
This past month I’ve been occasionally turning an ear to the recent presidential debates and the influx of everything I did and didn’t want to hear about both candidates. I personally know very little about any issues other than Israel and welfare, but I listened nonetheless, and I noticed a seemingly obvious yet disturbing trend.  
In their fiery speeches before hoards of admirers, the candidates would reference the crumbling economy, the troubles overseas, and the instability in the job market. There was an almost palpable sting in the air as their words evoked the painful memories of debt, worry, and uncertainty from the audience. Then, in one fluid transition, the speaker would point an angry finger at his opponent and accuse HIM of bringing about or failing to stop the crisis at hand.
The candidates would work to capture the pent up frustration in the masses and convince them to direct their blame and anger at the other party or nominee. The audience would clap and whistle with relief as they shed their problems right off onto their newfound scapegoat. However, this euphoria was not limited to the people in the crowd. Facebook, Reddit, Youtube, and other social media sites are simply exploding with frivolous political themed arguments and flame wars where the users practically threaten the lives of the candidates while making references to their co-debater’s mothers.
Throughout history, there has always been a plethora of negative emotion and hatred associated with elections and decision making as candidates would rally their supporters and attempt to convince the undecided that their opponent is nothing short of the devil incarnate. You’d have thought that with the blossoming of the internet age and the sudden availability of terabytes of information on any and every topic, we’d have a greater sense of clarity that comes with being informed, and be able to calmly deduce our own opinions.  Yet it seems that we’re stuck in a vicious cycle of allowing ourselves and our anger to be manipulated through our own ignorance of the issues at hand by those that we trust to draw a big bull’s-eye for our blame and hatred.
In my opinion, the only thing worse than blind anger is blind anger at those who don’t deserve it. As I listen to the hateful speeches and high-strung debates, I can’t help but think back to the pogroms in the Pail of Settlement and 1940’s Germany, where blame was all the rage (see what I did thar?). Scapegoats were needed, and they were found, just like they are today. Obama failed to do what he promised, and Romney is a one-percenter. I see very little difference.
 The continuation of this mindlessness in our modern day politics goes to show that we are yet to rise above the senseless bigotry that is entrusting our opinions and emotions to anyone but ourselves. And we only have ourselves to blame for it.


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