Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sharing the Blame

If there's one thing I've learned from years of group and individual counseling, it is the need to accept responsibility for our own behaviours (at least to the extent that some serious patholgy has not left us incompetent). That which we delve into so painstakingly in our sessions ideally serves to explain why we feel and behave the way we do, not offer excuses for misbehaviour. The question I'd like to pose is: Do these explanations offer mitigation - in moral terms - to any measurable degree?

Philosophically speaking, the presence of love seems to be the ingredient most necessary in order for people to be motivated to do good things. Conversely, the absence of love appears to accommodate evil behavior. Putting aside for a moment the undeniable complexity of why some people do evil things, one cannot underestimate the influence we all have on each other in our everyday encounters. By not being - or giving - the best of our nature to our fellow man at every turn, we all share a small part in each other's transgressions. By failing to give each other love, show compassion, or promote justice, we potentiate the seed of evil present within each of us.

Nowhere is this idea more clearly demonstrated as when we examine the root causes of crime. In study after study, researchers reaffirm the link between the existence of inequity in society and its propensity to facilitate criminal behaviour. While this link may not rise to the level of excuse, its effect on an individual's culpability is nonetheless mitigating. In other words, the first place any of us should look when searching for answers to the pervasiveness of evil and crime - is in the mirror.

Sharing the blame. Sometimes it's the right thing to do.

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