The Blame Game

In Opinion on May 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Seems that the blame game has become America’s and the world’s favorite past time. Any given hour you can turn on the tube or the radio and hear politicians and talking heads point the finger and blame “them” or “they” for everything from the economic crisis, the out of control national debt, the latest crime spree and so on. For a politician or a partisan pundit the blame game is, of course, part of their playbook, that’s how they make a living and get elected.  But unfortunately the blame game is not just limited to those making a living blaming others; no, the blame game has now become everyone’s favorite past time. Global warming, it’s all the fault of the Chinese and their coal burning plants, OR it’s a liberal conspiracy perpetrated by a bunch of left wing scientists that want to destroy the economy, OR it’s the people that drive those big SUVs  . . . you get the idea. Blame some other group or person and you don’t have to look in the mirror.  Blaming others allows us to absolve ourselves from taking any responsibility for our own actions and actually have an honest debate. In short the blame game is convenient, we all do it, all the time.

Of course the fly fishing community is not immune to the blame game either. As many of you know, this last steelhead and salmon season was rather dismal. Around here some fishermen had found the culprit, the “damn seals”. Yes, you heard right, the main reason the season was so bad, too many seals eating too many steelhead. Every third fisherman I talked to had come to that conclusion. A friend of mine had a friendly chat on the river with a guy who was just outraged about the “damn seals”. For him it was clear that something had to be done. He might have had a point to a certain degree, but when my friend argued that the seals had been there for many thousands of years and that the overall decline of the fisheries was a direct result of watershed degradation caused by humans, the man just scoffed at him. Turned out he had several acres of zinfandel right at the river, it obviously had never occurred to him that he might be part of the problem. Of course I am part of the problem too, because I like to drink a good zinfandel myself 🙂 But what are we going to do? Are we going to continue blaming the seals? If we do that, we might as well all learn to fish for carp, because in a few years there won’t be any other big game fish left in our rivers.

The truth of the matter is that we are living in a time of profound changes. Salmon and steelhead stocks are in rapid decline, the world’s climate is changing, our economy is going through a tremendous transition. Here in California, the blame game has made the state ungovernable and driven it to near bankruptcy.  As long as we all participate in the blame game we will never be able to tackle any of the real problems we face. Instead we will continue to be stuck in some kind of never ending “blame loop”, it might get us through the day, but it will for sure not get us through tomorrow.   

So how do we free ourselves from this never ending “blame loop”?  Well, first we have to become aware that we are all doing it.  As a start, let’s try to simply replace the terms “they” and “them”, with “we” and “us”; and maybe, just maybe, if we do that, we might be able to get a more honest perspective on things.


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