Guilty with an explanation, your honor

The gnawing pain of guilt is an essential if awful part of each person’s life.   We often say the phrase, “you shouldn’t feel guilty about that,” or its complement:  “Why don’t you / they feel guilty about that?”  There are aspects of guilt that everyone experiences that are rarely fully explored outside of novels, theater and other artistic creations.

But it is a fact that we, i.e. more or less everyone, feel guilty about some things we ”should not feel guilty for” and that we don’t feel as guilty as we “should” for some others. Our mechanisms for understanding ourselves are faulty. We condemn ourselves for things that we should stand up straight and acknowledge our responsibility without guilt, perhaps even with pride. And there are things we’ve thought or done that require our guilt, require us to feel remorse, require us to accept the pain of our more than fallibility, our complicity, our willing choice to do wrong to another or to ourselves.

Religion and law act as though the question of what we should feel guilt or, alternatively, should absolve ourselves are clearly delineated right or wrong, sacrament or sin, but psychologically its rarely simple. Unnecessary guilt hounds; necessary self-reckoning is evaded.

Randy Newman said it better.













One thought on “Guilty with an explanation, your honor”

  1. Just thought I’d add a few thoughts from BD:

    You know, it’s funny how things never turn out the way you had ’em planned
    The only thing we knew for sure about Henry Porter is that his name wasn’t Henry Porter
    And you know there was somethin’ about you baby that I liked that was always too good for this world
    Just like you always said there was somethin’ about me you liked
    that I left behind in the French Quarter

    Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content
    I don’t have any regrets, they can talk about me plenty when I’m gone
    You always said people don’t do what they believe in, they just do what’s most convenient, then they repent
    And I always said, “Hang on to me, baby, and let’s hope that the roof stays on”

    From “Brownsville Girl”, 1986.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.