March 18

Who’s Responsible for a Hurricane?

March 18, 2011

Personal Growth

The burden of guilt in our lives is unspeakably oppressive—and so confusing. Our society is utterly obsessed with who's at fault. Who can we blame? After a murder, for example, far more effort and publicity are devoted to catching and punishing the murderer than to addressing the emotional needs of the family of the victim. We love to blame—other people and ourselves.

I see the same tendency in personal relationships. Most of us blame other people for how we feel a great deal more than we realize, and we are sure of our justifications: Our partner was unkind, our parents did a lousy job of raising us, our boss was unfair.

The behaviors of other people—their thoughtlessness, their injustice, their anger—really can be disturbing, but we always have a choice about how we'll respond. We can't stop the unloving choices of others any more than we can stop a hurricane. It's never our fault that a hurricane happens, but we ARE responsible for how we respond to it. We can listen to weather forecasts and move out of the hurricane's path. We can weatherproof our home as much as possible. We can repair the damage to our home after the hurricane passes—or even choose to move our home entirely.

Similarly, although we can't control the behavior of others, we are responsible for how we respond to them. We can choose not to associate with people who are consistently hurtful. We can surround ourselves with loving people, so that the unloving behaviors of any individual or group don't affect us. We can choose to understand people and respond to them in loving ways. We can move our lives off the sand of Imitation Love and build on the elevated rock foundation of Real Love.

We're not responsible for hurricanes, but we are responsible for our own responses.

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