Thursday, November 09, 2006

the difference between a reason and an excuse

I've been mulling over something the last few days -- the difference between a reason and an excuse. It seems we have become a culture of victims. We are "adult children of alcoholics", "incest survivors", "abused children" etc. While I think the desire to figure out why we do what we do is wonderful -- I am concerned as to where it has led us.

Understanding that the abuse you suffered as a child affects your behaviour today is important. You have the reason for your behaviour. What you don't have is an excuse for future behaviour. When Mark Foley was accused of inappropriate emails to underage boys -- he said he had been fondled by a priest when he was a child. The fondling may be the reason, but it doesn't mean he gets to fondle kids now. It doesn't provide an excuse.

It's like we got the first part of the puzzle -- trying to figure ourselves out, by looking at our past. But we missed the second part, where you take that understanding and self-knowledge and use it as an impetus for change. At some point, you stop being the child of your parents, and you start being the adult in your own life. If you were a victim, you aren't any more. You can deal with your past, you can acknowledge what was done, you can hurt and grieve but you have to take the steps to heal. That is your true responsiblity, beyond self-awareness, beyond understanding, comes the difficult action to overcome and heal.

Otherwise you give the past complete power over yourself, and you truly are a victim.

1 comment:

cl-sandy said...

Which is the reason why I can today forgive the man who in anger struck me with a thrown shoe (giving me a black eye) in college.

I understand now that he was abused as a child. He understands that he has anger issues and is seeking treatment. He has apologized to me and is astonished that not only have I forgiven him, but I've also become his friend.

I just insist he keeps his shoes on.