by David Sisler

It was a beautiful afternoon. The sun was radiant, it's brilliance broken only occasionally by a white cloud which floated overhead.

The woman walked barefooted over soft, lush grass, stopping occasionally to inhale the fragrance of a flower or to play with the animals that scampered close to her path. She scooped a handful of water from a cool stream when she was thirsty and ate from an endless variety of fruits and vegetables when she was hungry.

Her husband loved her immensely. They shared such intimate friendship and companionship. She was the only woman in the world for him.

"This really is Paradise," she thought.

As she reached the center of the luxurious garden, she heard a rustling in a tree close to her.

"Eve," a voice hissed, "try this. It is the best fruit in the Garden. You'll see better. You'll feel better. You'll think better about yourself. You'll be so much smarter."

"God said I was not to eat from this tree," Eve said. "It is the only prohibition he has placed on my husband and me."

Sometime that afternoon Eve lost the battle. She knew she had lost that evening when God came into Eden for his habitual evening stroll with the man and the woman he had created.

Afraid of the voice that had once caused them such joy, Adam and Eve hid themselves. When finally they tumbled out from under the bushes where they had sought sanctuary, God asked them what they had done.

God looked at Adam and the man said, "It's not my fault! Eve the woman you gave me told me to try it. She did it first!"

Eve said, "It's not my fault! The serpent tricked me!"

Only the serpent did not try to pass the blame onto someone else.

Today all eyes would have turned to Eve, who would have had her personal agent and her lawyer present to have recounted several "facts" in her defense. First, she was lonely and simply needed someone to talk to Adam was, after all busy naming the animals or away on some other male pursuit. Second, she lacked experience dealing with such demanding circumstances it was her first such encounter, therefore, the only footsteps she could follow were her own. Third, with her limited experience she could not be expected to resist a creature of such overpowering intellect. So, who could blame her? It wasn't really wrong to eat that piece of fruit. It was just a mistake! Right?

A professional basketball player chokes his coach and when he makes a public statement he says, "It was a mistake."

Star high school athletes commit a series of armed robberies and when they are apprehended they say, "It was a mistake."

A mistake. That is another way of not taking responsibility for our actions. It is another way to deny moral authority.

If I am trimming my wife's flowers and I cut off one of her favorites, that is a mistake. If I pull out of the parking lot at a new computer superstore and make a left-hand turn, the wrong way, onto a one way street, that is a mistake.

But when I tell Bonnie, "You know I know nothing about flowers, you should have expected I might not know the difference between blossoms and weeds," that is failing to take responsibility for my actions. The way I phrased it, the fact that she asked me to pull the weeds makes the mistake hers, not mine.

As those unfortunates riding in the car with me complained about the rapidly approaching traffic and as those poor souls flashed their headlights and honked their horns, I justified our perilous circumstance by remarking that the intersection at the new store had no sign which indicated a left-hand turn was forbidden. It's not my fault!

The sheer fact that I had the opportunity to turn left out of the parking lot further exonerates me. They put the temptation to make the wrong turn in front of me. If they had erected a sign or a curb or some sort of barrier, I would never have tried to exit by the wrong way. The very existence of that temptation excuses my behavior, my mistake. Well, doesn't it?

To take responsibility for my actions means acknowledging that I was wrong. It means that I repent of my wrong choices and my wrong decisions. It is time that we stop spending time blaming each other for our personal mistakes and spending equally large amounts of time rationalizing why we did what we did. It is time that we say, "I was wrong. I am sorry." And say it to each other. And to God.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 7/25/98

Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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