From Joseph Bottum, editor of the always-excellent journal First Things:
There was a woman screaming on Park Avenue yesterday morning, flecks of furious saliva spraying from her twisted mouth as she raged into her cell phone, “It’s not my fault.” Over and over, like the high-pitched squeal of a power saw cutting brick: It’s not my fault and a run of foul names, then It’s not my fault and another run of names. It’s not my fault, you (blank). It’s not my fault, you (blank)ing (blank). It’s…not…my…fault.
…I heard the phrase again yesterday, in the bank’s vestibule after work, among the automatic teller machines. … There in the bank, while I checked my balance, a man was talking on his cell phone, one foot up on the window sill, as the Christmas shoppers hurried past outside, their arms full of packages.
“It’s not my fault,” he said. “I’m just the kind of person who has to keep after things.” What is it about self-justification that always makes it seem so false? About that phrase “I’m the kind of person…” that always makes it sound like a lie?
…It’s not my fault — the cry we’ve made every day since Cain was born. Down somewhere in the heart, there’s always an awareness of just how wrong the world is, how fallen and broken and incomplete. This is the guilty knowledge, the failure of innocence, against which we snarl and fight: It’s just the way things are; it’s not my fault. What would genuine innocence look like, if it ever came into the world? I know the answer I am called to believe: like a child born in a cattle shed. But to understand why that is an answer, to see it clearly, we are also compelled to know our guilt for the world, to feel it all the way to the bottom.