Terror and tragedy have been so rife in the news lately, it’s enough to drive one mad. But what’s more maddening are some of the responses to these disasters. Read the online comments section after any calamitous news story — Boston, Texas, the ricin attacks, you name it — and what you will read is blame. That’s where our minds go, instantaneously. Something bad has happened. Someone must be blamed.

All too often, we let the blame fall widely, ludicrously. I’ve seen the Boston terror attacks blamed on Obama, on liberals, on Illuminati conspiracies. The Westboro Baptist “Church” (and yes, they deserve the ironic quotes) would have you believe that our own godless acceptance of gays is at fault. Enough already.

Even worse is the sport of blaming victims. In the wake of Steubenville, two young women (Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott) committed suicide after being raped and finding out their attackers took and distributed photos of the attacks. Read the comments sections related to their stories, and you will see the word “slut” featured prominently. There is a consensus among some of us that these girls got what they deserved because they drank too much alcohol and passed out at a party.

To these people I would like to say this: If a girl deserves to be raped because she passes out at a party, what then does a boy who passes out at a party deserve? What do you yourself deserve when you make a foolish mistake? Girls who drink too much are guilty of nothing more than youthful stupidity. Since when does that carry the death sentence?

More radically, I want to say this: No one deserves to have violence done to them. Even if I decide to strip naked and walk up and down the street carrying a sign that says, “Rape me,” I do not deserve to be raped. I might need to be taken to a mental health facility for intensive therapy, but I don’t deserve rape. No one does. If we judge others with narrow-minded harshness, what are we saying about ourselves? What happened to forgiveness, to mercy, to empathy? For a so-called Christian nation, we seem to have forgotten the very basics of Christian love and charity.

In the weeks ahead, a lot of blame is going to be bandied about. Let’s make sure not to rush to judgment. Let’s make sure we don’t dump our blame on whoever is convenient or politically expedient. Let’s not blame the victims.

We will need a sober head and a cool temperament to deal with all the evil that’s going down. Here’s hoping we remember that.

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