Collective blame

I’m reading The Kite Runner with my seniors right now. Beautiful book.

Haunting book.

And because Afghani culture and history is not something I, a middle-class suburban American, know much about, I’ve been doing a lot of research on its recent history and current issues.

So far I’ve read about the massacre of the Hazaras, a minority group, in 1998; the widespread mistreatment of women; the regular and somewhat-accepted rape of young boys; the more than 2 million orphans—and the laws that prohibit adoption; the very recent destruction of schools by the Taliban; the huge numbers of Afghanis who have fled because a certain regime wants to wipe them out…

I’ll stop there.

Last Saturday Dave and I snuck away for an hour to have a breakfast date, and I processed this with him.

“You know,” I told him, “if I were God, and I looked at how humanity treats humanity, I would just want to wipe it all out right now. I mean, it only gets worse. I look at Afghanistan and think, ‘What do you do with that?’”

Lest I begin to think of this as some “other” culture’s problem, I started a poetry unit with my sophomores this week. I’ve been finding poetry slam videos to help 15-year-old boys get just a little enthusiastic about alliteration, similes, and rhyming couplets!

Today I learned that there are “special” poetry slams, as in poetry slams for people with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, brain damage…

They were cool! I watched a little boy with a shrunken body, strapped tight to his wheelchair, share that if he were an animal, he would be a big black bear because “they are powerful.” I watched a woman about my age describe how she would like to be a princess with a big pink car.

And then, I don’t know why, I scrolled down and found the comments.

I thought I was going to be sick.

No, humanity treats humanity badly all over the world.

And rather than wondering—as our culture often does—how a loving God could JUDGE people, I had a moment of pure amazement that He could even tolerate us, much less love us, how He could hold back from judgment.

The other day, with music blaring from one computer in the dining room, a dance video game going in the living room, a huge mess of baking being created in the kitchen, and a Nerf gun battle raging in and out of everywhere, Dave and I retreated to our bedroom to do some schoolwork in relative quiet.

“They’ve taken over,” I thought, “as if they pay the rent and utilities—which they don’t. They do all the play and carry none of the responsibilities.” And when I came out to find the kitchen had exploded, I thought, “and they have an amazing ability to ignore their messes.”

(And God gave grace and helped me remember that we WANT our house to be full of life, that mess is just an unfortunate side effect.)

But truly, as I’ve been reminded of human trafficking and bullying and street children and our passive and sometimes active ignoring of them—all the ways we DON’T do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with our God—isn’t it true that we’ve treated God the same way? We’ve forgotten who made the house and keeps it running. We lay blame on Him, abdicate our responsibility, and ignore the messes we make.


*Sorry for the depressing ending. I’ve always been amazed at how so many of the prophets took on collective blame, saying, “WE have sinned,” when the specific sin they confessed did not apply to them personally. There must be something to seeing not only MY sin but how I am part of the general sin of humanity.

2 thoughts on “Collective blame

  1. Jen, I have wondered the same thing, then I realized in my heart how I am like the Taliban or the people that hurt others. It is then that I realize that I am part of the “We have sinned.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s