NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me" recently had an episode in which they listed a string of excuses that various politicians over the years had used to cover up their transgressions. Since the show is meant as humorous entertainment, you'd be forgiven if you presumed that these were the invention of clever writers. But they were, in fact, direct quotes from the figures involved. For instance, Larry Craig, upon being arrested for allegedly soliciting an undercover officer in an airport restroom, blamed his "wide stance;" David Dinkins, accused of tax evasion, insisted he had not broken the law, but rather that he had "failed to comply with the law."
It's easy to make excuses. It's more comfortable to believe that the blame for some failure can be placed on an outside object, circumstance, or individual. But as Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in us." We cannot blame the fates or the cosmos when things go wrong, but must accept responsibility for our own actions.
It's a difficult task, to be sure, but when we set aside our excuses and admit our culpability and fallibility, we begin the healing that comes with teshuvah.