I have a confession to make. All my life, the Devil has played a role in my way of thinking and acting (heck, “the Devil made me do it” should have been the national motto). I want to blame my mom (she was pregnant with me when she watched “Rosemary’s Baby” at the theater) but I think it all stemmed from the 1960’s “free love movement” pendulum swinging in the opposite direction. The movie “Rosemary’s Baby” started it, followed by “The Exorcist”, then, after a cocaine-fueled disco era which lead to the “gay plague” (AIDS), you had “The Omen” and “Amityville Horror.” This isn’t even taking into account the real-life events that happened during that time, such as Charles Manson and his followers, Jim Jones, and the rash of Satanic cults “discovered” (and charges of devil worship levied against innocent people). It was like the Red scare all over again but instead of Communists behind every door it was Satan.
I remember the days of the rock music (I’m not sure if disco was included) album burnings of the 1980’s (thankfully I did not participate but some family members did). In case you do not know, all rock music was considered “the Devil’s music” (watch “Footloose”) and churches would, with the help of the teenage members, build huge piles of vinyl records in their parking lots and set them on fire (think of the book burning scene from “Indian Jones and the Last Crusade”). Music became the cause of all the ills of society and it wasn’t just rock music that suffered (the 80’s was when rap music came onto the scene). That was when Jerry Falwell, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Billy Graham, and Pat Robertson of the 700 Club were household names. Did I mention that I live as far from the “Bible Belt” as you can get (Central California)? I am truly surprised Nancy Reagan wasn’t burned at the stake when it was revealed that she had consulted an astrologer during her husband’s term as President.
This insanity continued for quite some time but expanded to include pornography and video games (which could be described as anything that offended any “Christian”). Here. Instead of me listing all the shocking things that happened during this time, take a look at this web page: A Brief History of Banned Music in the U.S..
Then, a movie came out that I hoped signaled a shift in the way the Devil was going to be thought of (no, it wasn’t “Wishmaster”). See, this movie is how I thought Satan would be, if he was physically walking among us: “The Devil’s Advocate.” Oh, boy! No horns, no pinning a person down and forcing them to do something they didn’t want to do, no possessing a little girl. He was charming and only gave you what you asked for (after all, he is a “fan of man”). Even after “Supernatural’s” portrayal of Lucifer being a bit closer to the Biblical version (but a hell of a lot more amusing) followed by the newest television show, “Lucifer,” I am still hearing of Satan breaking people’s cars, bringing back their cancer, or preventing them from finding a job.
So, why am I talking (well, typing) about this? At the core of all this (blaming bad circumstances/behavior on the evil “over there”) is the abdication of responsibility. There are too many people in this world who refuse to acknowledge that they play a role in the events in their lives. Using the examples in the last paragraph, perhaps your car broke down because you hadn’t checked the oil in a year or your cancer came back because your cancer came back or maybe you can’t find a job because you are applying for jobs you are not qualified to do? Maybe?
I’m sorry but if your dear little Johnny took a gun to class and killed people, then, when the police searched his room and computer, they find (in addition to the standard culprits: rock music and video games) weapons, ammunition, bomb making plans and materials, plus a hit list, is it really the rock music (or video games) that is to blame or could it be something amiss in your parenting?
Now, the blame game is focused on just about anything (and anyone) but ourselves and it doesn’t matter if it is an individual person dealing with their own life or the governments of the world. Except now, it’s not just Satan who is being blamed. It’s “Big Pharma,” “Big Oil,” “Big Tobacco,” “Big Brother,” the Republicans, the Democrats, the Socialists, the Communists, Main Stream Media, etc.
When I started smoking cigarettes at the age of 18, I didn’t say to myself, “I am going to start smoking so I can lead an exciting, carefree life just like in the commercials.” I am positive it was not Satan who made me purchase the 30-count value pack of (disgusting) cheap danishes and forced me eat half the package in one sitting and (as much as I would like) it wasn’t my mom’s fault or my high school band director’s fault that I quit school and gave up my desire to go to college. Nope.
All of the things that have happened in my life were the result of either beneficial or harmful choices I made. It doesn’t matter whether they were proactive or reactive, they were my choices. I made them and I take full responsibility for the consequences (both good and bad). It has many years for me to break away from blaming the devil (or anyone else) for my actions, especially without it turning into a pity party. I can now look back at my life and critique my actions, so I can learn what to do (or not do) in the future.
My hope (and prayer) is that I have taught my children well enough so they can proudly say, “Yes. That was MY decision and I would do it again (or do it a different way)” without blame, just taking responsibility.