• Dave Erickson

It's Not My Fault

Call me “old school.” Call me “out of touch.” But I long for the days when people accepted responsibility for their actions— when, honor, integrity, honesty, and backbone meant something. When, no matter how bad it might make you look, you owned up to the things you did. But these days, from killers to television stars, “integrity” begins and ends with blaming someone else.

Last week, convicted felon and a star of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Teresa Guidice filed a lawsuit which blamed her lawyer for the fact she’s going to prison. No, it wasn’t her own criminal acts and poor choices that put her in the pokey.

It wasn’t her fault, it was HIS!

Jodi Arias killed a man. Stabbed him more than two dozen times, nearly decapitated him, and then for good measure, popped a .25-caliber cap into his head.

It wasn’t her fault. It was HIS!

Take the Ferguson, Missouri riots. Just ask the mob of looters, it’s not their fault they’re destroyed small businesses, homes, cars, and jobs. It’s the grand jury’s. And Michael Brown? It’s not his fault he’s dead. He’s not to blame for ignoring a police officer’s order to stop walking in the middle of the street and move to the sidewalk.

It wasn’t his fault, it was the cop’s!

Not long ago, I had to write-up an employee on a television show I was running for violating one of our written policies. Rather than accept responsibility for her actions, she instead took out a verbal flamethrower of blame and torched me, my boss, a co-worker, Human Resources, and the vice president of the company. After a month of dishonest posturing and legal-wrangling, we let her go. If she’d have simply said, “Dave, I messed up. It won’t happen again,” she’d have gotten a slap on the wrist. She didn’t have the integrity to own up to her actions and her vitriolic diatribes to deflect blame resulted in unemployment.

But it wasn’t her fault, it was mine!

Cheating husbands frequently justify infidelity by blaming their wives for not giving them what they need. It’s not my fault I’m an unfaithful, philandering miscreant, it’s HERS!

How about Adam? This guy, talk about a blame-shifter. After eating the apple in the Garden of Eden, he had the chutzpah to actually blame both Eve AND God for his behavior. God asked Adam if he ate from the tree from which He’d told him not to eat, and Adam says, “The woman YOU put here with me— she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Just like a dude. It wasn’t my fault, it’s hers and YOURS!

Eve was no bastion of backbone either. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” It wasn’t her fault, it’s HIS!

To be fair though, Adam and Eve didn’t have an iPod loaded with Led Zeppelin. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” might have changed the course of human history.

Students explain away poor grades with, “It’s the teacher’s fault.” Parents justify their kid’s poor manners with, “It’s technology’s fault.” Accountability no longer rests with the accountable. A phrase so rare these days that it’s stored in Area 51 next to the identity of the second gunman on the grassy knoll is, “It’s my fault. I messed up.”

Look, my father would happily tell you that I too attempted to weasel my way out of situations where he had me cold. When I was growing up I never got away with anything. The blame game never worked with him. Dad successfully used Jedi mind tricks to nail me when I played it. When I did come clean, he’d impart “dad wisdom” to teach me that accepting responsibility is always better for you in the end.

Maybe Teresa, Jodi, the rioters, students, and parents should spend some time with my father.

Oh, by the way Dad… when I wrecked your car, it wasn’t my fault.

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