A businessman from the south of France is suing Uber for a staggering €45 million in damages. (For those who aren’t familiar with Uber—it’s effectively a taxi company without cars. You use your smartphone to submit a request for a cab, and someone nearby who is signed up with Uber as a driver is sent your request.) So what happened?
The man was being unfaithful to his wife, and on several occasions had used her smartphone to request a driver to take him to his lover. Despite signing out of the app, the software kept sending notifications to her phone revealing his travel history and ultimately arousing her suspicions. She divorced him, presumably on the fairly solid grounds of adultery.
And now with all the arrogance of one who had wanted to have his cake and eat it, he is seeking to blame Uber for the mess.
His lawyer said after lodging the case, “My client was the victim of a bug in an application. The bug has caused him problems in his private life.”
Check the language: “My client was a victim”—surely the aggrieved wife was the victim?? The ‘bug’ has caused the problems—seriously?!? The bug?? How about his unfaithfulness?
The glitch in the software only revealed the problem in his private life. It didn’t cause them. But like a child who trips over a toy and then kicks the toy saying “Stupid toy,” so he flings blame everywhere but the right place.
Yet ridiculous as it is, it’s what we all do. We flail around looking for someone else to blame instead of putting our hands up and saying, “I was wrong”. Presidents, politicians, government officials, police, bankers, clergy, doctors, teachers, pupils, husbands, wives, parents, children—how much clearer the air would be if we could swallow our pride and say it. Instead we double down; we go for broke and proclaim our innocence. We engage in papering over our actions with an elaborate fabrication of lies.
For we live in a culture of blame, not a culture of admission. “It’s not my fault—I’m a victim of circumstances, a bug in the software.” “It’s not my fault—I’m a product of my upbringing.” “If I had had different opportunities I would be a different person.” Some of that may be true in part, but until we recognise that we have a responsibility too we have no way to find a solution.
There’s a great quote from Sean Connery in the film The Rising Sun, he says, “Fix the problem, not the blame”. Our default mode is “Fix the blame; ignore the problem.”
When was the last time you put your hand up and said, “I’m sorry that’s my fault”?
And when was the last time you said that to God? What we do with each other is a reflection of what we do with him—always an excuse for why we fall short of his standards.
The irony is, if we would just stop making excuses, and admit the truth of his “Guilty” verdict, then there is hope for a complete and lasting transformation. We would start to become the people we try to imagine ourselves to be.
“Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Isaiah 55:7
For those who have already asked God to deal with our guilt through Jesus, how often do we put up our hand, either to God or to others, and say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong”? Or do we act as if our justification is our sanctification? As if his “Not guilty” verdict is a “No problem” verdict? Intellectually we mightn’t confuse the two, but functionally and practically the rubber hits the road either in our prayer life, or in our interactions with those closest to us–how good are we at admitting blame? Of all people Christians should be the best at this. This is where we can be salt and light in a culture of blame-shifting.