False accusations may seem to be outside of acting wise. However, we see in this Proverb that the wise do not falsely accuse the innocent. Interestingly, it does add a caveat for those that have done you harm.
Proverbs 3:30: “Do not accuse anyone for no reason when they have done you no harm.”
Blame and False Accusations
This Proverb is one that needs to be viewed in a greater context than this translation. The translation uses the word “accuse.” However, some translations make this more general. These other versions refer to struggle or strife with another. Therefore, we can see where this wisdom can be viewed as a warning against bringing others into conflict. In short, do not go picking fights.
A struggle can start through direct action and attacks. However, a wise individual knows that indirect action, suggestions, and innuendo can also draw people into a conflict. The qualifier to this verse is whether others have done you wrong, not whether or not they are likely to respond.
Cacophony and Confusion in Numbers
The problem with picking a fight is that there is always a possibility of losing. Loss can be quantified in many ways. Sometimes suffering any harm in a conflict can be considered a loss. We all seem to accept this fact when it comes to conflict like war. Any casualty is a cost of the conflict. Thus, it makes no sense to risk losses.
This applies to bringing others into a conflict that is not their own. Although there is safety in numbers, a larger conflict does not follow that rule. We may think that blaming or otherwise drawing others into a conflict may water down our cost. However, it just means more people will pay. Adding fuel to the fire of conflict may even cause things to spiral out of control.
Teaching Children this Wisdom
There is an almost never-ending source of examples of this wisdom in the news. There are local stories of bar fights, business deals gone wrong, and neighborhood politics. On the other hand, there are national and international stories of saber rattling, business deals gone wrong, and politics. This list includes almost any activist group. Although these organizations claim to be victims and responding to others, that is often not the case. Even a “rally for peace” can get out of hand quickly when someone decides to step on some toes.
The important factor to focus on is whether the party that “starts” the fight will gain value from it. Even when someone feels slighted that is not the same as harm. Ask your child if they think the escalation fit the “harm” that was done. Point out that escalation is often a risky if not foolish, path to follow.