I am always intrigued by predictable patterns of human behavior that are not catalogued elsewhere, and I have a new one to share: I call it “Blame Stasis.”
Simply stated, when a problem comes up, one of the ways we seek to deal with it on a purely emotional level is to find someone to blame for the problem. Once that person or entity is identified, and blame is assigned to them, we can stop thinking. We can go back to a calm state of emotional equilibrium, i.e., “blame stasis.”
To “show my work,” here is something odd I noticed a few weeks ago: Someone was writing an article about a recent school shooting. The author implied that the reason a 13 year old boy had shot up a school was because some young lady had rebuffed his advances. In other words, an attempt had been made to blame the female for the problems, as she was the temptress.
Then someone else shot back with another article saying no no no, the girl had every right to reject him, and the little boy was to blame for killing a bunch of his schoolmates.
So, whatever your gender bias, each article gives you someone to blame for the horrific tragedy. And once blame is assigned somewhere, this has a tendency to somehow resolve the problem, and we can sleep soundly.
You can see this same pattern happening on massive scale every day. Large numbers of people blame the democratic political party for any number of problems, and any number of people blame the republican party for any number of problems. And once that blame is assigned, we can go to emotional equilibrium, as though the assignation of blame by itself constitutes a solution.
Getting back to our young school shooter du jour, if we apply simple Toyota Lean 5 why’s analysis, we start to ask, why did he shoot up a school? Because he was emotionally upset. Why was he upset? Because his basic emotional issues were not being addressed. Why were they not being addressed? Because the school and community didn’t address them. And now we start to see that all of us are partly to blame for passively tolerating a system that consistently cultivates this kind of behavior.
Uh oh. Quick, how do we blame someone other than ourselves for this?
There is a bit of a management conundrum here, because we are so terribly eager to assign blame to someone other than ourselves and call it done, but at the same time, the only way to acquire any power is to take the blame on ourselves. If we assign the blame to someone else we are assigning the power to fix the problem to someone else.
I am always amused that no one ever suggests that we unite into one political party in the United States. Apparently, we must always be in two pieces, so whatever group we belong to, there is another group (that we have nothing to do with), that we can conveniently blame for all our troubles, and thus feel terribly righteous while not having to do anything to fix them.