December 26–Hope: Not Blame

What is the opposite of hope?  My first thoughts were hopelessness.  Hopelessness is still strangely in the realm of hope.  To be hopeless with all the pain and struggle implied by that experience still requires a hope–a hope that one has currently lost.

I am considering blame.  Hope by its nature has us leaning toward the future out of our present.  It creates a possible communion between now and the future.  Blame, on the other hand, locks us into the past.  It fixes us on a situation and more often a single person whom we hold irrevocably responsible for some pain in our lives.  Blame locks us in our tracks and poisons every present moment with the old bitterness and pain.

There will be horrible examples of pain and tragedy linked to a situation or a person.  Even then, there are often circumstances and events unknown to us that we can never account for–that if we were able to–would mitigate how we view the whole event.

Sr. Helen Prejean is the Catholic nun who has worked tirelessly both with those on death-row and with the families of murder victims.  She has noted in her work that the killing of a death row inmate does not bring the victim’s families any sort of peace or healing.  This is probably the ultimate case against blame.  At some point, even in the worst circumstances, we have to let go of blame so that we can heal.  Forever blame is a self-inflicted hell, and there is no way around it.

What to do with that event or person?  However horrible it was, it holds something in it from which to learn, to grow and to move forward.  That is called hope.

Bob Patrick

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