Passing The Buck


As humans, we have a tendency to place blame for our problems on others. Most often this tendency is responsible for people getting “stuck” in their issues because they refuse to admit their own faults. At the extreme, this tendency could be seen as a cause of genocides. Hitler was adamant that the Jews were responsible for Germany’s failure in WWI, and for Germany as a whole to recover from the disastrous effects of the Treaty of Versailles. One can also see this tendency in other genocides such as in Rwanda in 1994.

I just finished reading a book called _At Dawn We Slept_ by Gordon Prangue. In it is described the desperate struggle by the commanders on the spot (in Pearl Harbor) to shift the blame to Washington. They argued vehemently that they had been denied critical intelligence from Washington that would have made a difference in their disposition and attitude of available forces. The author finds that argument inadequate because the duty of a commander is to always be ready for any possible contingency, and certainly the Japanese were the whole reason for the Pacific Fleet being in Hawaii to begin with!

While most of our blunders and blame shifting don’t cost so much in terms of blood or tears as these examples, it certainly must be recognized that any attempt on any of our parts to “Pass the buck” results in equally lame sounding arguments. Accepting responsibility for one’s actions means that there is an honest accounting and attempt to correct the situation. No matter what it takes. Jesus said you must “Deny yourself, and take up your cross daily” (my own paraphrase from Luke 9:23-24). Self-denial is at the heart of “Not” passing the buck.

Taking responsibility for my own actions is not self-flagellation, but is a reckoning that seeks to correct wrongs and make myself more like Jesus. At the heart of it all, love is not a feeling but a verb. I “Love others” by protecting them from myself, my own ego, my own short-comings, my tendency to avert blame. I take actions that will be beneficial to them and to others, rather than serve my own appetites. It takes courage, and faith, and reliance upon The Holy Spirit to keep me on the right road. At the end of it all, I cannot do it alone, but must be in contact and connection with a body of believers. That’s the only way I can avoid passing the buck.

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