With the most recent rampage that occurred last week in Santa Barbara, once again we’re being presented with as many excuses as humanly possible for the reason it took place. From guns to knives to Hollywood, it seems as if everything in the world is at fault except for the actual person who committed the crimes. What everyone is overlooking, though, is the root of the problem, which has nothing at all to do with any outside influence, including the possibility of mental illness. The real problem lies in the cultural shift our country has taken over the last couple of decades, due in part because of the erosion of leadership on all levels.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s community activists or the President of the United States, when our leaders — those people who are meant to set the example for all of those who follow — consistently refuse to take responsibility for their actions, behaviors and choices by placing blame on everything under the sun other than themselves, it’s only in our nature to follow their lead. When our example is to play the victim no matter what happens, what do you think the majority of people are going to do?
We are supposed to be able to look up to our leaders. In sports, especially football and baseball, the pitcher and the quarterback always get the credit for a win or a loss, no matter if it was their fault or not. The reason for this is, they are the captains of the team. They set the tone, they set the pace; they are the ones who the other players on the field look to for guidance. So whether or not Jake Peavy pitches a perfect game or is knocked out of the game because his players couldn’t field the ball that day, he’s going to be the one who gets the win or the loss. And they accept that.
The current so-called “leaders” of our nation do not think this way. If something goes right, they’re more than willing to take all of the credit; if it goes wrong, it must be because of someone else, for they couldn’t possibly do anything wrong. The thing is, our leaders want to be victims. They want to be able to blame others when things go wrong so that they are never at fault. Because if they’re at fault, it means they’re fallible; and to be fallible is to show weakness.
That mindset itself is a fallacy. Being fallible isn’t a weakness, it’s human nature. We all make mistakes. But we need to be able to admit to those mistakes and take responsibility. By doing so, we show respect for ourselves and our own lives. When we decide that fallibility is a weakness, we begin to deflect our responsibility onto someone — or something — else, thus keeping us pure in the public consciousness, even though we’re far from it.
Continually playing the victim also means you’re more apt to do things you probably wouldn’t normally have done, simply because you believe that nothing you ever do is going to be your fault. This also helps nurture a divisive mentality, because now we have somewhere to point to if we don’t always get what we want. Whether it be a division between Republicans and Democrats, men and women, black and white… because one group feels they have a problem, it must be because of the other side. But this type of mentality doesn’t start on the bottom rungs of the ladder; it starts at the top, where we are constantly told we have the problem in the first place.
To really solve this issue, this idea of playing the blame game needs to stop. We need to stop playing the victim and own up to our mistakes. Forget about the guns, the Hollywood culture, or mental illness for a second and take a real good look at our leadership. If we had a set of leaders who actually took responsibility and were held accountable for their decision, who are willing to stand up and admit their faults, promote honesty and integrity, and rise above the rhetoric and the talking points our current “leaders” deem the only truth worth talking about, our cultural mentality would shift for the better.
Soon enough, the majority of people would nurture that example and stop blaming others and take responsibility for their own lives. There would certainly still be crime, mass shootings and the like, but we wouldn’t be so quick to place blame. Instead, we would be able to unite under the idea that no matter what happened, the person that caused the incident to happen is the only thing that matters, and we would be a stronger nation for it, because we would try harder to be better.
Until then, nothing will change, no matter what we decide to blame, or how many laws we pass to try and stop it.