I get email and posts which seem to stress that I ought to feel guilty about all sorts of things. I ought to feel guilty because of my racism; I ought to feel guilty because Australia doesn’t do enough for displaced people; I ought to feel guilty for my part in climate change; I ought to feel guilty because of ?????? And so it goes on. And many of them indicate clearly how I can give my money to them and they will make it good!
Well, I’m sorry I refuse to wear it. Have I lived the perfect life? The answer is obvious and I don’t deny it – I have fallen far short of perfection. But it seems to me that trying to pile straw (guilt) on the camel’s back (mine) will break it. I must live straight in the present and into what future remains to me.
I cannot be blamed nor do I need to feel guilty for what my forebears, close or distant, have done in the past. I refuse to accept others’ rubbish dumped onto the front yard of my life. I cannot be blamed for wrong decisions made by others whose responsibility it was to deal with that/those situations. I cannot go back and undo one thing that I have messed up in the past. Sure I can deal with honesty and integrity with the end results of my actions but a word spoken cannot be unspoken; a deed done cannot be undid!
If there is no God (before whom I may well have responsibilities and guilt) I cannot see how I can feel guilty before a vague concept of evolution, or before a political ideal most (all) of which seem corrupt in themselves. If there is a God then I should see if He has anything to say about the responsibility/guilt/forgiveness/what-next issues. And if there is a real ‘God’ then I cannot redraw Him to suit my personal wants. If there is no God, then finding a standard by which to self-judge or condemn others is difficult. Do I do what seems right in my own eyes and then be faced with the dilemma – should I expect others to agree with what I’ve decided? – or does everyone have the right to judge right-wrong issues for themselves? Can I ‘pass the buck’ and blindly obey those who are ‘in power’ to make the rules? Can those rules then be changed, and if so are there any rules for making changes?
I’m one of the lucky ones. I believe in the God of the Bible and God therein makes amazing and gracious deals on our behalf. I can confess (but no pulling the wool over God’s eyes) and be forgiven and then be given the instructions of what to do. God does not forgive you to free you just to do what you want to do. There are instructions as to how to live. Not that it makes everything easy to either understand or do. Important are – stewardship for the earth on which we live; treating our fellow beings in the way we want to be treated ourselves; fair dealing in business; the need to steer clear of the many ways that people and businesses try to lead us into shonky deals.
And none of us can solve or even be involved in all the problem areas. Taxation needs to be equitable, without all the loopholes now available to be bought. To honestly paint the whole picture causing the various problems and not to just highlight (often the fashionable) one of many issues involved. We will have to be prepared to lower our personal expectations concerning wages, pensions, living standards if we want to raise the standards of the poor and of the developing world. I can’t tour around the world, talking about the main cause of climate change being man-made problems, in a private luxury jet, staying at top hotels, being paid a CEO wage and not expect to be quizzed on my life style. I think you can see where I’m heading, express an opinion if you desire.
Merry Christmas, Dominic Cartier
3 thoughts on “Guilt – real or unreal?”
Guilt emails are unacceptable. Mostly designed to urge us to give money to some cause. I’ll choose my causes.
Thank you Dominic. There is too much on what you have said for me to make a brief comment. But I do feel guilty about the things I haven’t done to improve the other people‘s life. I do feel that I’ve wasted my talents.And in your last paragraph you make some really pointed comments about the hypocrisy of so many.
I have always said, “If you can’t say something nice don’t say it at all.” Hit the delete button they aren’t worth the time of day!