Bless our heart, under authoritarian rule, loyalty is regarded as more important than competence....

Bob Garner: The badlands of blame

Bob Garner

Bob Garner


Sunday, January 28, 2018

I recently heard one sensible politician say that shutting down government is like a chemical weapon: It should be banned by thoughtful people of any political persuasion.

“Weaponized” blame is actually what ought to be banned.

Controlled blame directed at ourselves can be a useful weapon against foolishness, as long as the caliber isn’t large enough to result in self-condemnation.

Blame publicly and tactically fired at others is, on the other hand, an actual weapon of mass destruction. It looks useful at the time, but it achieves nothing over time but devastation.

It’s a kid’s game we all ought to try to leave behind as we reach adulthood. Every conscientious parent scoffs at their kids’ trying to blame others. But regardless of what parents preach, children are as observant as foxes in seeing how fast they succumb to trying to navigate adult life among peers with a worn-out compass. Especially when they get lost in the badlands of blame.

One major root of this is that we too often say or write blameful things we would never say to another privately, at least not one-on-one. When circumstances force us to hold our fire — and our tongues — until we can see “the whites of their eyes,” and when no one else is listening, unfamiliar honesty and humility often emerge.

Particularly in the political realm, two adversaries often confess their own culpability for mistakes in that setting. Knee to knee, looking directly into one another’s eyes, it’s difficult not to do so.

But what is also far too easy is to wryly acknowledge to one another that they’ll be leaving the private honesty behind, going in front of a camera and strongly blaming the other — for the consumption of either a fluid constituency or a hard-core base, depending on whether they’re elected only in a district or statewide.

In truth, there probably isn’t more than a scrap of even that bullet-riddled collegiality remaining at present. Hardly anyone wants to get knee-to-knee any longer. Not in politics. Not in any other endeavor or interactive relationship, either.

It’s no good blaming today’s social media or the 24-hour news cycle. Weaponized blame has been deployed far too long for that.

We’ll either become great or return to being great when many more of us start refusing to level blame publicly that we wouldn’t level in exactly the same way face-to-face, in private — where it’s practically impossible not to concede our own failings.

A newspaper editorial from long past posed the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” Theologian G.K. Chesterton answered, “Dear Sirs: I am. Sincerely, G.K. Chesterton.”

In the end, that’s the only way to win the blame game.

Bob Garner is a UNC-TV restaurant reviewer, freelance food writer, author of four cookbooks, barbecue pit master and public speaker.


Bob Garner take a deep look at sincerity and blame through ... pottery. 

Guile or Sincerity? from Bob Garner on Vimeo.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


May 27, 2018

"The Garden is Open" sign is still there.

The tulips and azaleas, though well past their height, still glorify the yard.

It is still worth a special trip to Chapel Hill to experience this lovely, well-planned, colorful garden.

But the twin sisters who planned every part of their grounds and…

May 23, 2018

Sometimes presentation is overrated. Eton Mess is a British dessert that’s an unapologetic mishmash of fruit, cream and crumbled meringues folded together and plunked in a glass or bowl. It’s the kind of mix that appeals to kids and adults alike. While you might call it messy,…


May 20, 2018

Weeks after college graduations and weeks before high school ceremonies, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is having what the Rev. Bob Hudak calls a “commencement” today.

It is not a commencement in which diplomas will be conferred but a commencement in the sense of the beginning of…


May 20, 2018

I read recently about a mama raccoon and her four babies falling through the ceiling and onto the living room couch of a Michigan home.

The closest I ever came to that was a lone dead squirrel that wormed its way around the uncompleted mounting of a new ceiling light fixture, was apparently…

Bob Garner

May 20, 2018


Dear Short Answers: There is a woman in town who is a stay-at-home mom with three children. Every year (actually, three times a year), she throws the most lavish birthday parties for her kids. It makes the rest of us moms look like slackers. Every year, our own kids ask why…

Short Answers

May 19, 2018


■ Burning Bush United Holy Church, 610 N.C. 43 North, Vanceboro, will have quarterly meeting at 11 a.m. Sunday.

■ Carson Memorial Pentecostal Holiness Church, 1710 Pactolus Highway, will have its annual homecoming service at 11 a.m. Sunday. The group Unshackled will be musical guests.…

May 18, 2018

Capsules of movies playing locally. New releases are indicated with an asterisk.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR — The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. (2…


May 18, 2018

Diners at Oklahoma’s Tulsa Club must have thought there was something funny going on that spring evening when more than two dozen men met on the roof and spent several hours singing old songs.

Customer complaints about the noise caused the next meeting to be moved to the Hotel Tulsa, but the…


May 18, 2018


Art from Pitt County Schools high school students will be on exhibit from today through June 10 in the Commons Gallery. An opening reception will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. today.

The Greenville Museum of Art is at 802 Evans St. Call 758-1946 or visit gmoa.org.

Gray Gallery

The exhibit “110…


May 16, 2018

Wingstop is a new restaurant at 1885 E. Fire Tower Road next to Baskin Robbins Ice Cream. Enjoy ample seating at artfully decorated tables with an aviation theme, listen to upbeat music and order an array of items from wings to sides from the easy-to-navigate menu.

Wingstop offers three styles of…

329 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 33
        Next Page»   Last Page»