Last week should aptly be renamed “National Blaming Week”; albeit, we could reasonably have several of these per year. A mentally unstable young man commits a horrendous and senseless act of violence. What is our first response? Blame somebody – blame something! Many in this country responded to the recent shootings in Tucson, Arizona by blaming anyone and anything that could have potentially and negatively influenced this person in any manner.
This article is not a political treatise but rather a social psychological assessment of our propensity to blame others for secondary gain and diminish the importance of personal responsibility in our society. It is hard to know exactly what to blame for the fault finding missions following the events in Tucson. As in other cases of bad or even apparently bad events, accusing others may alleviate our responsibility or perhaps accomplish some other secondary agenda. Some of the blame is blatantly political and therefore agenda-driven while others are reflex blames; deep-seated, even primal behaviors. The urge is overwhelming. We blame primarily to either shift responsibility away from ourselves or in the case of the Tucson shooting, onto others.