This is a short essay on the issue, often in conflict situations of “who started it?”
The “Who blew the wind?” phenomenon crops up often in inter-personal conflict situations where both parties are convinced that the other party “started it” and that all they are now doing is reacting innocently to an attack.
Feigning innocence, bidding for who is the real victim, usually exacerbates a conflict situation, as the “victim” claims the higher moral ground and attempts to absolve themselves of all responsibility in helping – wittingly or unwittingly – to create the conflict in the first place. I call it the “who blew the wind” phenomenon because, a bit like the wind, its source if hard to pinpoint. The wind isn’t “blown” at a particular point in time, though there may be catalytic processes along the way. The wind is a locality is part of a weather system that itself is often part of a longer time-based process, part of a repeating pattern, the result of many impacts and influences. Sometimes a conflict does have a clear history, but it also usually has a “pre-history as well – a longer time line of many event influencing the recent, more local timeline. Taking responsibility is a more effective alternative to the “victim-blame” pattern, it is literally the ability-to-respond to the many effects of a range of influence in both history and prehistory.
As soon as we think we know who blew the wind, we find that the blower was also blown and also influenced in many others ways, not all conscious. Understanding and consciousness of the systemic influence allows as to take response-ability, not to a person blamed, but to processes which, if not addressed, might create further problems in the future.
I may blame someone for my loss of a job, but it will be more helpful to me if I understand how my own behaviour might have influenced the decision that led me to lose my job. And even if I cannot find any clear influences arising from me, I may still understand that the person who fired me was part of a timeline of actions and influences is the environment that were beyond, not just my control, but also his and hers.
It’s a kind of spiritual laziness to blame others for “blowing a wind” that, usually, blows the blower just as much as it blows us! Mutual recognition can then lead to a search not for blame, but for common ground and a join understanding of the social “weather system” at play, often a system that is too complex to grasp alone.
Over time the audit trail back to the original trigger (which may also be in their heads rather an any explicit deed) becomes murky and confused until the history of the conflict actually disappears into the darkness of “pre-history”.
Both parties demand acknowledgement from the other that “they started it” and this of course becomes impossible. Talking through the history becomes a kind of archaeological dig into the prehistory of the conflict and only bare clues can be found, with the whole picture lost to the past. Only bare artefacts remain, selectively brought out to “Prove” that this or that was true in the past.
So the conflict continues as both parties blame the other for “blowing the wind first”.
The only way out of this situation is for both sides to realise that the history has become a confusing and unclear prehistory and that the original “sin” can no longer be traced, or laid upon either party with any certainty.
Someone may indeed have “started it” but both parties are certainly “continuing it”!
The key is for the parties to realise that the present certainly can be seen and changed. We can stop “continuing it” but to do that we have to let go of the idea that there has to be an “owning up” to the first cause, that one person is guilty of blowing the wind that caused this storm!
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