Guilt by Participation

One considers being guilty of something meaning participating in whatever the offense may be. Occasionally, participating means something different.

Magnifying Glass Clipart

Have you ever been around someone who is trying to figure out something, especially where something went wrong? Whether it was BFF trying to figure out why Mate left or why Partner’s presentation was met with laughter instead of cheers, we have all participated in the investigation phase of some travesty du jour.

The role we play is often the outsider. We listen to the rendition of facts without a lot of direct knowledge of the cataclysm at hand. What we do know is the ancillaries which contributed (fuel, resources, motivation).


When we give our knowledge of how events unfold, we are often accused of justifying those actions. Although we had no part in the decision-making, strictly because we understand why the decision was made makes us appear guilty. Guilty of what exactly? Mostly the things not done.

1. Intervention

When we point out all the signs on the road to disaster, ones easily discernible in hindsight, we pinpoint all the places where this cataclysm could have been nothing more than a scorch mark. Our friends want to know why we did not point them out the moment they appeared, unwilling to hear how we were not on the path to have read the sign in the first place.

2. Intercession

Sometimes, the signs are not events along the path; they are character traits. While each of us has some character trait which is incompatible with or harmful to others, when they are revealed as contributory to the cataclysm, our friends want to believe we would (and should) intercede on their behalf, either to the one who will blow up their worlds or to them.

3. Interdiction

All may be fair in love and war, but our friends expect us to derail their enemies and all forces who would come against them.

We simply do not.

Why not?

It is a matter of logistics and analytic hindsight.

gas canWhen we look at the aftermath, it is easy to discern the chain of events which lead to the ashes. It does not take rocket science to combine matches and gasoline to end up with a fire. So, why do our friends think we have a gas can?

When they ask us why anyone (in their right mind or otherwise) would do such a thing, we have an explanation, a plausible, supported-by-facts explanation. Two assumptions leap to our friend’s minds. 1. We know because we would do the same thing. 2. We know because we saw it unfolding.

As with most assumptions, the facts not in evidence are more weighty than any which may be.

In the first place, if we were capable of causing the cataclysm, we are not the friend to be trusted with the investigation. It takes a special brand of twisted to look for the fox to investigate the hen house robbery. Our friend is merely suffering a loss of trust and misplacing it by mistrusting us.

In the second place, just because we know now does not mean we knew then. We have all heard

Hindsight is 20 20

Looking back is easier than noticing the big picture while we are framing the small portion containing only our lives. Our friend does not want to feel like a rube. Who would? Still, empathy aside, no one likes to be accused of eating popcorn whilst a friend’s life goes down like the Hindenburg.


What does it take to show our friend we missed all the signs then no matter how obvious they are now? It is virtually impossible to prove one does not know something unless one can provide a body willing to admit teaching it.

Broken HeartMany of us fall prey to the broken trust of friends when someone else is the one who broke it. Some friendships regain their footing with sufficient time and reason. Others are never the same. The friendships which rebound are often the ones where friends stand together against the one who broke the trust. The ones which end usually should have.

The truth is a friend who believes we are capable of complete inaction when we see the train barreling down the tracks at them is not really a friend at all. A friend who believes we are capable of burning their lives to the ground is not a friend. They have both hands full trying to blame someone besides themselves.

Now What?

When we weigh whether we should keep a friend or find a new one, the scale is packed on both sides. The brick of accusation is heavy, even if it was tacit. The lighthearted memories can outweigh the brick. The real trick to the equation is realizing trust is the scale and it is at a minimum cracked, if not completely shattered.

Is it possible to prove you do not know something? How does one rebuild trust shattered by someone else? Is it worth it?

Hashtags: #friendship #relationships #trust

Thank you for sharing The M3 Blog with hashtags.

© Red Dwyer 2014
Re-Blogging of this or any other post on The M3 Blog
is expressly forbidden.
Copyright and Privacy Policy available in The Office.
Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. Since I got burned by the way almost all my old friends sold me out – some repeatedly – it has reached the point where I find it hard to trust anyone, but when things were at their darkest my new friends have rallied round and given me the support I haven’t had for 24 years.

    Like the man said: We live and learn, but sometimes the lessons are just too damned painful. 🙁

    It is ironic that those who hurt me the most are now desperate to keep me around, but I guess being worth money makes me a valuable asset… 🙁

    Love and huge squishy hugs my friend and a VERY Merry Christmas!!! 🙂

    Prenin recently posted..Saturday – Quiet Day.My Profile

  2. It is impossible to prove you did not know something.

    It is possible to remain silent when you see the train coming, sometimes that is even necessary, desired. Tricky yes, but friendships survive silence better than they do interference where it isn’t asked for. Strange, but true.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..Call it RainMy Profile

    • I have seen that in practice. For some, it really does work because unsolicited advice is nearly always unwelcomed and fisheyed. xxx

  3. Red as always your thoughts are well grounded in their logic.. you said ” A friend who believes we are capable of burning their lives to the ground are not a friend. They have both hands full trying to blame someone besides themselves.”..

    And there in you have it.. If they ‘Think’ that then they didn’t know you at all.. And to be quite honest Red our lives are better off without them.. And We need prove nothing to another.. And if others would sooner take another’s word to condemn then they too do not know you .. These have never truly been friends..
    True friends are rare….
    Here’s hoping you can heal that which needs healing and let go of those who cause the pain..
    Love and Light to you Red..
    And wishing you and yours a HAPPY CHRISTMAS..
    Sue xox
    Sue Dreamwalker recently posted..An Angel Prayer.My Profile

    • Dearest Sue, true friends are indeed rare and precious. I rarely have trouble letting those who believe such nonsense go their merry way. What I faced this week was an issue belonging to someone else. Sadly, a few someone else. I think this needs a follow up, which I have done for intimate relationships, but I have not for friendship.

      Meanwhile, have a very Happy Christmas! Give hubs a giant squeeze from all of us. <3 The New Year is going to be bright! Much love, Sue. xxx

  4. Building trust is a slow process when you have been burned in the past. It’s hard to forget how it’s gone wrong in the past sometimes and remain hopeful for a new outcome. I think it’s even more difficult with romantic relationships than with friendships.

    Wishing you a great Christmas, Red! I hope that 2015 is a great year for you too x
    Christy Birmingham recently posted..Lauren Hill Gets an Honorary Coach TitleMy Profile

    • Hey, Christie! So very good to see you today. I think you are right about romantic relationships. By the time we invest enough emotional capital into our close friends, this tends to be less of an issue.

      Have a beautiful Christmas, Christie <3 Bright Blessings for a fabulous New Year! xxx


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.