My oldest brother Doug was a professional baseball player who made millions and then lost everything from drug abuse. The abuse became so bad that he ended his own life days before Christmas in 2004. There was a ten-year difference in our ages and my memories of him as a young boy were not of admiration but fear from his frequent volatile outbursts.
Prior to his death, he had scammed many family members with money and I watched how his behavior negatively affected those around him.
Imagine my surprise when fans from all over the country wrote condolences about the kindness Doug had shown them throughout his ball playing career – the way he had supplied bats, ball and gloves to little league clubs in need or visited children with cancer or funded sports scholarships for needy young sports enthusiast. Not to mention the thrill his skills brought to legions of fans.
As I was driving today I was reflecting on an article I’d just read that blasted much of the spiritual philosophy I subscribe to as well as the teachers who had played a meaningful part in my evolution. My belief and my mentors were reduced to labels of fraudulent and injurious because of the writer’s own personal disappointments. I remember how saddened I felt after reading it. It seemed as though the writer threw a shame blanket over anyone connected with New Thought and dismissed the possibility of anything good coming from this ancient wisdom philosophy.
I was reminded that I had done the same with my brother years ago. I had also thrown a shame blanket over his life – discounted him entirely, until I realized there was more to him than I had witnessed.
The words shame blanket felt like an accurate term to describe how we dismiss, judge and shame people entirely without pausing to reflect on the possibility that there is more to a person than we may see. We certainly don’t want people making those sorts of blanketed dismissals towards us, but far too often we are seduced in doing just that through the convenience of deflecting our own unforgiven shame onto others.
The shame blanket is the sole accessory for scapegoating. When we avoid our own personal behavioral examination and instead focus solely on the faults of others, the others become our scapegoats. They are distractions that provide a byapss from doing our own moral inventory.
I heard it said this way, “When someone does something wrong, don’t forget all the things they did right.”
Don’t bury the positive under a shame blanket.