Monday Musings – The cottage industry called guilt
‘’Guilt is a manufactured emotion...” shouted the twitter message “... to sustain religions’’ it added quite provocatively. Let me stay with the first part of the sentence for the purpose of this musing and also in the interest of personal safety.
We have to give in one thing about guilt for sure – it is an emotion that is literally taught to be felt. Let us look at all other negative emotions closely to illustrate the point. Sadness, depression, grief, disappointment, hurt and other cousins of this family of emotions happen automatically to us. No one really teaches us how and in what circumstances it must be experienced. No one can be forced to experience it – it is a natural human response to things that are not going well as per plan.
Now let us contrast this with guilt. A tiger feels no guilt in killing the deer – but we are taught from early on that killing needs repentance because it is wrong. I know it is a gory and a stretched example, but the dramatic often drives home the point better than subtlety, isn’t it?
Right from early childhood children are coached to feel guilty about things that they don’t do as per prescription. A child who does not share must feel bad about it, a child who does not listens to his parents/elders must feel bad about it (this part is often accompanied with drama and histrionics in Indian homes!), a adolescent (to be read gender agnostically) not following the norms of attentiveness and submission in love must feel bad about it and so on and so forth. In the arena of marriage i will refrain from illustration because i know my reader is getting the drift by now. So when we enter adulthood with years of education in all kinds of circumstances we must feel guilty about it, this sense of guilt becomes hard wired in us. It becomes our default response. We become programmed. A child is not born with any sense of guilt – he only knows how to cry and how to be happy.
One would be forgiven to believe that this guilt is a cottage industry and everyone is selling it in the bazaars, in small measure or large. However one must be sharp enough to also see that the business of guilt is organised crime against free willed souls.
This is how the whole thing works. One designs an elaborate code which teaches us all the places where if one is not pandering to the established norms, one is supposed to feel bad about. The key word my friends is ‘supposed to’ – meaning that someone else is governing for us what we must be feeling bad about. The greater the experienced misery, the better is the atonement! The guilt must not only be felt (as a matter of force) but it must also be visibly expressed. (there is nothing called guilt in private). You see, the whole business is staged around an explicit performance of demonstrated atonement. Thank God they have abolished self flogging in these parts of the world.
Finally the funny thing about guilt is this – if for some strange reason you have discovered that this business of guilt is something that is a cart load of crap and you don’t really feel like feeling guilty, then the guardians of guilt will make you feel guilty about not feeling guilty (“ see how shameless you are – not even feeling guilty’’. Sounds familiar?
I am rolling on the floor. This is biggest scam on earth i have discovered. And guess what – i am not even feeling guilty in saying this – how shameless!!