"Adam said, 'It was the woman. She gave it to me…'" - Genesis 3:12
Years ago, the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands held an outdoor banquet on a soccer field for the visiting Archbishop of Canterbury. Between courses, they discussed the bloody civil war that had recently ended there.
Suddenly, the Prime Minister turned to the Archbishop and said, "I want you to bless us! I need to say in public that we were responsible too, not just the people on the other islands. So I’ll quiet the crowd. Then I’ll kneel down, and you can ask God to forgive us for what we contributed to the horrors."
There are moments in life, the Archbishop said later, when you hear the gospel for the first time. Like when a politician says, "We were all wrong. It wasn't just them. It was us too."
People hardly ever voluntarily accept a share of blame. Our default position is innocence. "Not me," said Adam, "I'm the victim here."
You did this. We didn't. Our intentions are good. Yours are bad. Our suffering's terrible. Yours can’t compare. Our story’s true. Yours is a lie.
Little changes until we stop telling the story of our innocence and their guilt. Things change when we tell the far more important story—not yours or mine, but the one shared human narrative of ignorance, myopia, fear, error, violence, trauma, and loss.
It wasn't just them. It was us too.
Strip away my sense of aggrieved innocence, O God. Show me what I don’t want to know about myself. It wasn't just them. Then let healing begin.
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.