Sensational Living®

September 2006
© 2006 by Bret S. Beall


What do "blame," "boredom" and "bigotry" have in common, other than being things to avoid? Essentially, all of them involve shifting responsibility from oneself to someone else. Let me share a few anecdotes with you, and you can see how easily it is to solve problems if we just learn to accept responsibilities for our own actions, just saying "No" to irresponsibility in the process.


This column was inspired by an odd experience at a bus stop this past July. I had gotten off the bus I usually take from downtown (147), and waited at the stop for either of the buses that would take me to my neighborhood (136 or 151). Several more 147s came by while I was sitting at the bus stop, so I remained patient and watched the people come and go from the nearby grocery store. While yet another was waiting in front of the stop at a red light, I glanced over and noticed a woman about a block away running toward me/the bus/the intersection/the alley/any of a number of things. The bus left and when she got to the bus stop, she started berating me for not holding the bus for her. I told her, "I would have held it if I had been sure you wanted a 147." She wasn't yelling to hold the bus, she wasn't waving her arms, and she wasn't communicating her intentions, but she was expecting me to be telepathic.

I truly felt sorry for her, as she couldn't take responsibility for 1) her poor timing at coming out of the nearby grocery store, 2) her inability to run fast enough to catch the bus, 3) her hesitation/shyness at being unable to shout out her wishes and desires, like "Hold that bus, please" or 4) her impatience at waiting for the next bus [which ended up coming before either of my own buses came].

Expectations of mind-reading/telepathy seem quite common in the blame game. I recall once when my father was trying to access a two-lane highway from a gravel road. Traffic was surprisingly heavy, and my father was impatient, so he drove across both lanes and onto the shoulder of the opposite side, and began driving along the shoulder (fortunately, in the direction of the traffic!). He was waiting for the car approaching from behind in the lane to pass so he could enter the lane, but that driver saw a crazy driver occupying the shoulder, and he was staying WAY back. This, of course, caused my father to start cursing and shouting, because my father could only interpret this situation by identifying the OTHER driver as an idiot (and one clearly without telepathy who couldn't ascertain my father's intentions). It was a sad moment for all around.

Remember the woman who sued McDonald's because she had placed a hot cup of coffee in her crotch, and was shocked when it spilled and burned her? Pathetically, she won her case! Her blaming someone (anyone? Everyone?) else for her own ignorance has now resulted in some of the most ridiculous warning labels (If you think she was NOT ignorant, and that she deserved the money, please write to me … I have some questions for you). It has also resulted in a diminution of common sense, an increase in ignorance, and a surfeit of irresponsibility.

Another example of blame that almost all of us have experienced is that comment, "Your words/actions/beliefs/[insert relevant word] HURT me!" Well, unless someone hauled off and punched you really hard, or shot you, or knifed you, or poisoned you, I'd say that you ALLOWED yourself to be "hurt." You are blaming someone for your inability to accept differences. Remember that old taunt, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Embrace it! Furthermore, you are imposing your own belief system on someone else, and that ain't cool. Here's an example: I want to have a glass of wine with dinner, but my teetotaler dining companion launches into a diatribe about alcohol and its negative impact on health, mental capacity, spirituality, finances, and more (FYI, this would have to be a client; none of my friends would EVER engage in this intolerance). I have many choices. I can "tolerate" my client's wishes, and go without the glass of wine. I can logically counter each of my client's arguments while sipping my syrah. I can explain to my client that I will respect his/her wishes by not insisting s/he have wine with me, but that his/her right to control what I do does not exist. Whichever of these options I choose, I must take responsibility for the consequences.


I could be wrong, but at one time, I pretty much thought the phrase "I'm bored" was the purview of children. I was wrong. I am hearing more and more young adults (and not-so-young adults) exclaiming, "I'm bored." Somehow, they do not have a movie/TV show/theater event/video game/telephone conversation/[insert other activity] to occupy their attention. They believe it is someone else's responsibility to entertain them, much as young children believe because they haven't been educated otherwise.

I am an only child. For my first twelve years, I lived near other kids, and had many friends; when my friends were busy elsewhere, my parents encouraged me to read, write, draw, paint, sculpt, learn, collect, organize, clean … in other words, they let me know very early on in my life that I was responsible for entertaining myself! Maybe I went overboard; I recall my elementary school teachers being a wee bit intimidated. During my teen years, I lived on a farm five miles outside the nearest small town, and so even though I had this wide range of skills and talents to occupy my time, I didn't have the nearby friends, so I frustrated my parents with "I'm bored" more often than I would like to admit. Eventually, my parents "solved" that: I was given "chores" (put hay out the cattle, cut holes in the pond ice so the cattle could drink, ensure a salt lick was available, feed the ducks and geese, weed the garden, help with garden maintenance, help with anything that needed helping). It was also "suggested" that I accept the job offer from our neighbor, a pig farmer; I spent three years, every Saturday, working on this pig farm … the stories I could (and will) tell! About the same time, my parents "encouraged" me to start raising rabbits in order to develop my budgetary and records-keeping skills (and provide hands-on animal husbandry experience … I mean that literally, not figuratively!). And, even before I could drive, my parents insisted that I get an after school job.

I WAS NEVER AGAIN BORED, and since then, I have never been bored, because I know I have a world of opportunities and experiences within my grasp. So do you. So does everyone, as long as we recognize that we MUST take responsibility for ourselves. Of course, that is often easier said than done, so I'll also share that, during those often-lonely teen years, I began serious introspection. I looked inside myself, which was the first stage of becoming comfortable in my own skin. I think in many ways, boredom represents a discomfort with oneself. Having spent the last 35 years continuing with introspection, often with the help of others, and helping others do the same thing for themselves, I now believe that this is an important purpose of our lives on this planet: to take responsibility for getting to know ourselves.


So, we've covered Blame. We're done with Boredom (that was an easy one). What about Bigotry? Can I convince you that bigotry is really about not accepting responsibility? I guess that depends on the definition of bigotry that we use. The #1 definition at dictionary.com (based on the 2006 Random House Unabridged Dictionary, is the "stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own." Well, that tells us "what" bigotry is, but it doesn't get at the "why" of bigotry. I propose two explanations.

My first explanation is based on blame. When something goes wrong, a bigot is inclined to look for someone to blame, and it is often easier to blame an entire group of nameless, faceless individuals (aka, bigotry). Consider the current concern over illegal immigrants. People without jobs are blaming these immigrants for taking away work. What if these individuals doing the blaming actually took responsibility for their own employment, and enhanced their skills, or developed a stronger work ethic, or created an entirely new income possibility? It's not always possible, but it's still a much better strategy than blaming an entire group of people because we cannot find employment. I could provide dozens more example of such blaming, scapegoating, and shifting of responsibility, but you get the idea.

The second explanation relates to my own route of introspection, and my goal to become comfortable with myself. This has allowed me to shed much ignorance, and thus to shed fear, and to take responsibility for my own reactions to external actions. Ignorance and fear are at the root of most bigotry. Ignorance of what a particular group is, or believes, or embraces. Fear of those who are different from us. If we all took responsibility for educating ourselves about our fellow Earth citizens, we'd be free of ignorance and fear. Sometimes this means taking responsibility for just saying "No" to familial conditioning, and to just saying, "Yes" to respecting, embracing and celebrating the differences in others (I credit my parents for rearing me in a largely bigotry-free home). I'm a huge proponent of "respect" as both a management and a lifestyle tool, though I haven't yet written a column about it; I have hinted at it in many of the Sensational Living® columns at http://www.god-dess.com/sitemap.html … check them out for insight into taking responsibility for respecting diversity and rejecting bigotry. You can even take responsibility for educating others. You have the power to make a difference in the world, if you choose to embrace that personal power.

Are you ready to eschew Blame, Boredom and Bigotry? Are you ready to take charge of your own life, and help others take charge of theirs? Have you already started? If so, please write and share your story with me. If you haven't, and you want/need some help making that change, I can help you! Just call me at 773.508.9208, or email me at bret@god-dess.com. Accepting responsibility for yourself is one of the most freeing, liberating, empowering activities you can do. Do it today!