The show opens with the discovery of the body of a young boy in the woods of a tight-knit neighborhood, much like the one you may live in. Ben, the man who finds the boy, is of course the prime suspect of what is obviously a murder. Conveniently...or not so conveniently, but conveniently for the sake of a series...he has no recollection of the evening before because he was on a drunken binge.
Therefore, the whole series is about finding out "whodunit."
So why am I telling you this?
Because I think the writers are actually quite brilliant.
You see, we, the viewers, believe that Ben did not kill the little boy. But in his desperation to find the actual killer, he digs up dirt on every other person in the neighborhood. He watches everyone closely, and finds reason for their guilt. He lashes out and blames everyone who appears the least bit suspicious. He makes assumptions and accuses others in public. In so doing, he alienates the few neighbors who still believe his innocence.
We believe each person's guilt right along with Ben, until they explain the secret that he has dug up on them. We, the viewers, quickly go from, "He's shady. I'll bet he's got something to do with it." to believing their explanations and alibis. The only difference is that we don't have to suffer the fallout of our actions, behaviors and words, like Ben does.
The reason I think these writers are brilliant is because even though this is about a murder and it is, of course, blown out of realistic proportions, they capture the true nature of human beings.
Don't we do the same thing?
- Have you ever been quick to blame others when you were accused of something that you didn't do? Or maybe you were caught in something and suffered embarrassment, so you looked for someone else to blame.
- Have you ever lashed out at others in anger after being accused of something, often in public? (And greatly regretted it?)
- Have you ever accused someone before you had all the facts?
- Have you ever made assumptions based on sketchy evidence and discovered that you were dead wrong?
- Has any of the above impulsive behavior ever resulted in alienation?
My guess is that everyone reading this blog was able to answer a sad and resounding "yes" to at least one of those questions.
So why do we do it?
Well, I have no initials after my name, but my guess is pride. Arrogance. Self-righteousness. The need to blame in order to shift the shame, especially when there is erroneous judgment on our behalf. We feel the need to shift the focus off ourselves. God forbid if we look bad, especially when we're not! Someone must pay, but it won't be me!
We feel angry shame if we have been judged unfairly.
The need to point the finger dates back to the beginning of the creation of man.
It stems from sin.
Adam and Eve...you know the story. The serpent deceived Eve, she ate the apple, gave some to Adam and they suddenly discovered that they were naked. And they were ashamed.
Were they ashamed of their nakedness or were they ashamed of their sin?
Hmmm...maybe they were ashamed of the fact that they'd disobeyed God (aka sinned), and now realized that they were exposed...both physically and spiritually. Their sin left them naked and exposed.
So they hid. In their shame, they hid.
That's what shame does. It causes us to hide from the consequences of sin.
But you can't hide from God, as the first couple figured out.
So what did they do?In order to shift the shame, they blamed.
"It was this woman you put me here with! She told me to eat it!"
"It was that serpent! He deceived me!"
Assumptions lead to
Accusations, which lead to
God gave them consequences for their behavior, but He also clothed them. He banished them from the garden, but He provided sustenance outside the garden.
And He forgave them.
So, instead of shifting the blame
in order to remove the shame,
let's try doing the same.
Do whatever you need to do to stay calm.
Count to ten.
Put yourself in their shoes.
Don't make assumptions.
Then you won't make accusations.
And you won't cause alienation.
Don't be a Ben.
Blessings Along the Path,
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