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The pointing finger

Confessions of a realistic pollyanna

In grade school, one of the favourite games that we use to play as a class was wink murder. One child would be chosen to be the murderer. When they winked at another student, the other student would pretend to die. Other students would be on the lookout. If they could catch the murderer winking at someone they would win. But if they didn't guess who the murderer was in time, they might be the next victim.

It was a simple game. We would be looking for the one person to blame for the murders. We were looking to point our finger at the guilty party. In wink murder, we want to make someone the scapegoat (rightly or wrongly).

I think we as a society continue to look for those people that we can blame for problems that we face. Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews for all the problems in Germany. He tried to eliminate the Jews to solve that problem. White South Africans blamed all of their problems on black South Africans. Many in rich Western societies blame immigrants and refugees, those who speak different languages, those who practise different religions, those who have different customs, blame those who are different for all of societies ills. Dividing the world between those who are on one side of the pointing finger and those who are on the other side, increases disharmony, promotes hatred, and makes communities suffer. The pointing finger of blame means that walls separate us and there is a break in God's plan for the world.

I know I too have pointed the finger, if not in blame, but at least in superiority. When I pass someone who is a victim of addictions, I think to myself that, "thank God I am not like that." When I see someone who is loud and boorish, I am thankful that I am more genteel. When someone can only express themselves with violence, I think to myself, "thank goodness, I have learned skills of conversing politely and know that it is possible to disagree without raising a fist in anger. These are just a few ways that I point my finger at the other.

But there is just one thing about raising a finger to blame or to feel superior over another. And that is, that fickle finger of fate might point at me in return. Maybe someone blames me for problems society faces. Maybe someone feels superior to me. Maybe someone else is going to use me as a scapegoat. The finger which I so freely pointed towards another could in just a few seconds more be pointed by someone else at me.

What this means is that I shouldn't try to make another a scapegoat. I myself have to have some ownership in the problems of the world. Others may struggle with certain parts of life that I find so easy, but I have to admit that in many, many things people are far superior to me. And if I want to find love, acceptance, and encouragement in the world, I need to be more loving, accepting, and encouraging. When I destroy barriers for others, barriers are destroyed for me. When I blame, I can get blamed.As Sister Mary Lazarus from Sister Act reminds us, "What goes around comes around." Let us model the world by acting the way we want to be treated, and by refraining from using the pointed finger. Amen.

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