“There can be something cruel about people who have had good fortune; they equate it with personal goodness.” –Ann Patchett
The camera is lost.
The good one. The expensive one. The one not attached to anybody’s iPhone.
We had it during our recent weekend trip to Austin, took some photos with it, and now we can’t find it. We’ve searched the car, called around, looked in all the places where it might be.
Losing things makes me furious. Always has. So at a time like this, the path of least resistance would be to start blaming people.
- Blame my husband for not paying better attention.
- Blame my son for leaving the car unlocked.
- Blame myself for insisting on taking the camera in the first place.
The Blame Game
It’s human nature to point a finger when things go wrong.
We all want to blame somebody.
It’s why the ancient people of Israel symbolically strapped their sins to a goat and sent it out to the wilderness to die. We’re desperate for a scapegoat.
I’ve been shaking my head this week at the predictability of the internet and all its armchair quarterbacks. The incident with the four-year-old falling into the gorilla habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo is the outrage du jour. ‘Cause everybody’s mad at that momma.
Everybody with a flashing screen and enough thumbs to type in a grammatically atrocious comment is weighing in on this one.
- They say the mother was negligent.
- That she should be held financially accountable for the gorilla’s death.
- That she wasn’t apologetic enough.
- That she had no business taking all four of her kids to the zoo.
- That her four-year-old is nothing but a brat.
And so on.
Everybody’s a critic when it happens to somebody else.
Sanctimonious Parents Who Never Mess Up
I used to be like that. I was a super judgmental, sanctimonious know-it-all parent, too, back before I actually had kids. Back before I was dealt a hand that rocked my world and changed my life for better or worse.
I’m just glad I grew out of that phase before the advent of social media.
There’s a series on this blog about parenting and bad behavior that I wrote a while back. Unfortunately the people who could probably most benefit from it won’t ever read it. Because they’re still floating down a river in Egypt with their self-awarded gold medals in parenting.
Here’s what I know about the now infamous gorilla mom: she has four kids and she chose on that fateful day to take her babies to the zoo. I don’t know anything else about her.
- But I do know what it’s like to have four young kids.
- I know what it’s like to turn your back for a second and have one of them disappear.
- I know what it’s like to not have enough eyes, ears or hands for all of them, and to not be able to meet all their needs at the same exact micro-moment in time.
- I know what it’s like to be judged for my parenting choices, missteps, and mistakes.
- I know what it’s like to have strangers eye me and my child with hatred and contempt.
- I know what it’s like to be blamed for something I didn’t do.
And thing is, if you search long enough in your history, so do you.
Being blamed for something that wasn’t anyone’s fault sucks.
Things happen. Moms get distracted for mere seconds. Young children move incredibly fast and notoriously make poor choices. Fences outside zoo enclosures are built at just the right/wrong height.
Accidents Waiting to Happen
Believe it or not, we’re all just a perfect storm away from tragedy.
How many times have you been in a near-miss situation?
- Ever run a red light and thank your lucky stars that nothing happened?
- Ever leave your car or house unlocked and still come home to find everything intact?
- Ever fallen down and manage to not break a bone?
Yeah, me, too.
And fortunately, I’ve also never had a child crawl into a gorilla habitat at the zoo.
There but for the grace of God, though, y’all. ‘Cause I’m not foolish enough at this point in the game to think there’s anything out there that couldn’t happen to me.
The word happen means “to occur without reason or design, by chance.”
People are human and living is dangerous.
Sure, in a perfect world, nobody would ever make mistakes and gorillas would never have to die as a result. But that ain’t the world we’re living in.
So to the sanctimonious, judgmental parents who are having a heyday blaming an ordinary mom of four for something every mom has done at some point, I sincerely hope when it’s your turn, the internet will show more grace.
But it’s not likely.
Because the social media monster is an extension of that part of ourselves just dying to blame. Somebody, anybody. Who’s gonna pay the price for the tragedies of this world?
Well, thing is, I know a guy.
He took the blame. All of it. And he’s the only one I know of who actually never screwed up.
- Never got distracted.
- Never made a mistake.
- Never looked away for a second to take a quick iPhone photo.
- Never hid behind a computer screen heaping insults and judgment on strangers.
Instead, he volunteered to be the scapegoat for all humanity’s mess-ups.
Never once in scripture do I see Jesus placing blame on anybody. He’s not the blaming kind.
Even when blame is due, it’s just not ever his M.O. Instead he offers only grace.
Blame is the opposite of grace.
It’s the insistence that somebody must pay for everything that’s gone wrong in the world. It’s the cruel pointing finger that eventually comes for each of us. Blame is no respecter of persons. In the end it finds us all.
Except that Jesus agrees to take it for us.
If the son of God can take the blame for me and give me grace instead of what I deserve, why is it that we sit so high and mighty in judgment for one another?
I don’t know.
But what I do know is that today I will choose to say this: our camera is missing. It happened. It’s nobody’s fault.
And then I’ll try each day to continue on in grace. My prayer is that you’ll do the same.
Stop Mommy-Shaming Over the Gorilla Incident by Jeffrey Kluger