short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Accept the Blame Even When the Fault Is Not Yours

One of the hardest things to do is accept blame. It is hard enough to do when it is one's own fault. It is even harder to do when someone else causes the problem. The more typical reaction is to blame the other person and expect some changed behavior from that person. Instead, one often meets denial, defense, and anger, and a bad situation has turned into an impossible one.

The movie, Sommersby, with Jodie Foster and Richard Gere tells the story of Jack Sommersby, who returns home after spending time in prison -- only the returnee is not jack Sommersby but a schoolteacher from another county who looks just like him and has taken on his identity. For those who do not know the story, the new Jack Sommersby turned out to be a kind and humane man, unlike the real Jack Sommersby. One of his kindest acts is to help slave laborers who Sommersby's land to earn their own lots. Unfortunately, he is brought to trial as the real Jack Sommersby for a crime that warrants the death penalty. If he admits he is not the real Jack Sommersby, he will live, but the laborers will lose their land. He makes the decision to accept the blame for a crime that he did not commit. Like the true hero of A Tale of Two Cities, he expects that "it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

We may never be called upon to show the courage required to accept a level of blame that demands the payment of our lives. We do, however, often run into situations where accepting blame and not insisting that we are right (when we really, truly are right) is the better part of valor, better for those we are dealing with and better for ourselves, too.

I have a friend, a self-effacing immigrant with less than perfect English skills, who personifies the idea of accepting blame even when she is not at fault. When something goes wrong -- she is given an incorrect order, she gets the wrong change, or someone ignores her in line -- she apologizes.

At first, when I heard her do it, I thought that her English was deficient and she had not understand. Then, when I realized that this was not the case, I thought that she did not have the courage to stand up for her own rights. After watching her for a number of months and in a number of instances, I learned that she had greater courage. She had the courage to subordinate her need for being right (and feeling virtuous) to someone else's need to save face. As a result, she almost always gets what she is after, and both she and the other person feel good about what has transpired.


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes I published, copyright 2003.


  1. Elizabeth:
    You have a good message here. Thank you for sharing it with your readers.

  2. wisdom yes.

    Aloha from Waikiki;

    Comfort Spiral
    > < } } ( ° >


    < ° ) } } > <

  3. Thanks, quietspirit.

    Aloha, Cloudia. (I dropped by your blog earlier today.)


About Me

My photo
I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.