Whose Fault is Everyone, Anyway?
People are wonderfully diverse as a group, but if you spend enough time around them, you will end up wondering the same things about specific individuals. Where is this person going? Where did that person come from? And, if the individual is annoying enough, you might find yourself asking, “How did they get that way?” Well, the answer has a lot to do with how long they have been around.
People who haven’t been around very long, also known as children, are the fault of their parents. Bad children don’t always have bad parents, and good children don’t always have good parents. It’s not that easy. However, a child’s behavior can almost always be traced back to their parents. Whiny children have parents who don’t listen, or maybe parents who listen too much. Confident children have doting parents, or they might have been left to fend for themselves. Either way, the child’s behavior is a result of the environment the parents cultivated, or failed to cultivate. All children, even orphans, are the fault of their parents.
How long does childhood last? This is difficult to say. As a general rule normal people are no longer children when they have reached physical maturity. How do you tell a cub from a bear? The same applies to telling children from adults. In theory. There are always exceptions, but they are exceptional.
Adult humans are their own fault. Regardless of their upbringing, regular people reach a point where they make decisions for themselves, and they are responsible for those decisions. A kid who throws a tantrum is a reflection on his parents. A grown up who has a fit is an embarrassment to himself.
Maybe that grown man having a fit in the grocery store had a terrible childhood. That is sad, but it’s hardly a justification for his behavior. You don’t have to stop blaming your parents for everything wrong in your life, but the older a person gets, the less that excuse holds up. Adult humans are responsible for their own behavior. They are their own fault.
How can you tell when someone stops being an adult and starts being an elder? This is also difficult to say. If it looks like an old person, talks like an old person, and smells like an old person, then I think it is safe to assume you are interacting with an old person. Old people aren’t their parent’s fault, and they have stopped being their own fault. Old people are the fault of the world.
Just like buildings and machines, people are weathered by the environment. Every moment you live is like a drop of water running down your psyche. Over time, these millions of drops erode who you were and shape who you are. Sometimes natural processes produce marvelous wonders, like natural bridges and Mother Teresa. These same natural processes can create nasty problems, like mudslides and mean old ladies with yappy little dogs.
As you go through life and grow more and more exposed to the world, the influence of your own decisions becomes less important than the weight of all that has happened. That is why it is important to make good decisions while you are relatively young, so your character doesn’t wear away as you age.
People are universally difficult, but trying to understand how they got that way can make them easier to deal with. Don’t get upset with children. Get upset with their parents. Don’t get mad at old people, get angry with the world that created them. And if a grown, non-elderly person is being a jerk, then it is their own fault.