One of the most common games that we play as members of the human race is the blame game. There are no formal rules in this game. We learn to play this largely by osmosis. We see our elders and leaders in the community in which we live playing it so deftly and in large and small ways and we pick it up almost through instinct. And we ourselves start playing it from our very early years. We see its incipient traces when young children start using the phrase "it was not me", especially when some transgression was discovered and it became apparent that one and something to do about the situation.
We see this happening in our first parents in the unfolding of the Genesis creation story in the bible as well. When God asked Adam about having taken from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Eden, he started playing the blame game and finger-pointed Eve as well as God, when he said "it was the woman you put with me". In one deft move, Adam tried to exonerate himself. I guess one could call it crude self-preservation, but it doesn't take much to see that this was what was happening. And from that point, up and down the centuries, we haven't veered much from this 'original shame' that is the seedbed of our original sinfulness.
What could possibly 'save' us from this? Only if there be a human being who refuses to play this insidious game right from the start - to show that it is not only possible but downright necessary because this would be living life the way that it was intended to be by the one who gave us life. This Saviour must be the one who, when he sees that it is so easy to play this game and save himself, flatly refuses to be sucked into the life-sapping process that the downward spiral of sin takes us all into. And only God himself could do this.
But does God then change everyone's inherent desire to play this game? Yes and no. The instinct to play this game is still inherent in each one of us, but Jesus gives us the ability to fight against this self-saving and self-preserving spirit that you and I possess. And when we share this with others, we encourage them not to play the game too. When we divest and to share rather than hoard and possess, we don't play the game. When we own up to our weakness and refuse to blame others as a way to escape any finger pointing, we purposely lose at the blame game. And it becomes most apparent that we withdraw big time from the game when we boldly imitate Jesus on the cross and utter with deep sincerity "forgive them Father, for they know not what they do."
In just two separate instances this week, this game played in two different settings. One global, the other national. Spain is understandably upset that Germany had blamed them for the recent terrible E Coli outbreak that claimed the lives of 30 people in Germany, and leaving many others very ill. Their agriculture industry suffered a huge blow because of the blame, which has since proven to be untrue as the source of this deadly bacteria. On the home front, several areas in Singapore had been hit by floods and the water ministry and water agencies immediately said that they were working on the premise that the weather pattern has changed, rather than say that perhaps their ministries needed to rework the way they managed the drainage systems all these years.
If only we can begin by looking at ourselves first, as countries, as a ministry, and individually as human beings, perhaps we can do our bit to stop this spiral and step out of the game, and boldly refuse to take part in what often ends up not just being a blame game, but blood sport too.