To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult.


The year was 1971, and I was about eleven. The ramp had been set about five feet from the curb and all of the neighborhood's professional stunt men and advisers to the stuntmen were present. I sat astride my green stingray bike with the banana seat and cheater bar and prepared for the jump . I can remember to this day the thoughts that raced through my head as I sped towards that ramp: "Do I need more speed so that I can make a grass landing or less speed so I can land in front of the curb?"

This is the type of technical analysis that really should be completed before one gets on the bike. I hit the curb... with my head. Some time later my Mom found me wandering through the house hollering, "It's hatching, it's hatching!"

She rushed me to the doctor's office where The results of the CAT scan confirmed Dad's long-held suspicion: Nothing there. Now all that was left was to assign blame. Today it would much more complicated. The proper authorities would have to determine if I was wearing the correct safety equipment. Other government agencies would be called in to determine if Mom and Dad were providing adequate parental supervision. The lawyers would want to know where we got the wood for the ramp, who manufactured the bicycle, and who poured the concrete for the curb. All would have to be sued.

But, in 1971, it was clear to me what the problem was: I should have built up more speed - any child of eleven could see that - I would not make that same mistake again. The blame was mine!

We live in a world where it is important to assign blame, for it is always someone else's fault. So we train more lawyers and build more prisons and  open more courthouses and pass more regulations. Then we are surprised to discover that bad things still happen. We need to learn what Plutarch discovered 1900 years ago (and what I discovered 40 years ago): The secret to life is not in finding out what is wrong with others - it's in taking responsibility for our own shortcomings. Jesus knew that even before me and Plutarch came along.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own?... You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. 

Matthew 7:3&5, NIV