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Blame, Shame and Other Delights October 31, 2010

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Environmental Concerns, Personal Observations.
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I’ve been thinking of writing a blog entry about forgiveness. However, I had a tough week. Without whining too much, let’s just say that a number of things did not go the way I would have liked. Rather than bore you with all the gory details, I’m going to settle on the event that I found most upsetting.

I live in a nice little neighborhood which was described by someone I used to date as a “Norman Rockwell neighborhood.” This beauty is due in no small part to the trees which line the streets and live in people’s yards. My own little property does not have any shade trees on it but I do have three pine trees and two dinky little trees that were planted by the borough before I moved in 10 years ago. They have not grown much and I was told this week that they aren’t meant to be shade trees…oh great, I’ve been patiently waiting for 10 years. With all of this said, my favorite tree was an 80+ year old oak tree which grew a few feet from my property line and provided shade and beauty during the summer months. The tree grew on the part of our property known as ‘easement’ which means that technically it is not our property but the borough’s.

For reasons unknown to me, my next door neighbors decided that the tree needed to come down and repeatedly dogged the borough tree manager to take it down. He complied with their request on Monday morning. I looked out to chain saws, trucks and frenzied activity. I was outraged by this on so many levels I can’t even begin to describe it—if you read this blog regularly you know I try for 500 words and I am now at 300. So let’s just say I was angry and upset.

Now to the point of this post. I lapsed into anger, outrage, and blame directed at my neighbors—who have been good neighbors for 10 years. Granted they don’t share my political leanings and blithely assume that I share theirs but that’s another story. (I have come up with an assessment that Republicans don’t value trees/the environment but I realize that it’s based on somewhat limited grounding and I am willing to let go of that one or send it on to Margaret and Helen for full development on their blog. Margaret and Helen’s Blog )

Back to my point, I am now sitting in a place of blame and I gotta tell you, it’s not a great place to be. Since I am in the process of getting ready to explore this very topic with a group of managers this coming week, I’ve been giving it some thought. Blame can happen when we either feel powerless or don’t wish to take a look at our own responsibility in creating a situation. Ok, so far so good. So in the case of my lost tree, I felt powerless to change the event, wasn’t consulted or apprised of the situation in advance. Feeling powerless makes some people feel like victims. As for me, it makes me bloody mad!

I’ve also been thinking that it gets real easy to blame other people when you’re very adept at blaming yourself for things. I think I’m pretty good at that. So what resides in me (or you) easily and quickly gets pointed back at others. Do I blame myself for the tree’s demise? No—but I could make a list of one or two other things that I have blamed myself for.

Well, I am now up to 600 words and I’m just getting warmed up. So I’ve decided to give you a “To Be Continued.” I plan to write the next installment on how to step out of blame. It’s a mind game that has to reach your heart at some point. And maybe by that time I will even have done the work myself. After all I did write a post last week entitled Being Kinder Than Necessary. Last week’s post

If you feel called to, please write a comment about your own experiences with blame and challenges with forgiving others. In the absence of that, I will of course have some thoughts.

Stay tuned..






1. edgyangel - October 31, 2010

Great insight.That forgiveness thing is always with us here in Earth School.

2. Jane S - October 31, 2010

Oh, Ann, I am so very sorry about this. I still miss my favorite tree in the neighborhood but at least it was lightening, not people, who changed my view. Sad to lose the tree and perhaps sadder that it hurts your relationship with others. Hmmmm, blame. On an intellectual side I know it’s because I see myself as different from others (and usually superior) therefore I can blame them for things I dislike. My spiritual challenge is seeing how much we are alike in our intentions. Forgiving others doesn’t mean I have to embrace their viewpoint or accept actions that are unacceptable. It does mean that I have to find other thoughts to replace my “revenge fantasies” as they crop up during the day. I’ve also found that when I am concentrating blaming others for a problem in one area, it doesn’t feel helpful because even deeper I’m annoyed with myself or fearful about something else. That’s the harder work but ultimately more rewarding work to do. So maybe that is the upside of a blaming situation…it humbles me enough to look at my own fears and frustrations. Sending you a hug.

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