dimanche, juin 06, 2010

When you stand...and when you fold

What causes you to feel shame?

Or, to put it more directly, is it ever appropriate to feel shame -- as opposed to remorse?

I don't feel shame a lot anymore. But when I do, I recognize the historic roots of that shame.

I have paid a price for walking a different road than many of those with whom I would ordinarily find commonality. I wear the mantle of the outsider, as a convert, a liturgical bridgebuilder, a journalist.

And in this I'm not that different from immigrants, and those who transition from one economic class to another, or folks who, for one reason or another, have been compelled to step outside the bounds of the conventions that generally make it easier for us to move in and out of friendships and romances.

For some reason, even when I was younger, my insecurity would focus on my looks -- the guys at PTS who only wanted to date blonds, the fellow Anglican who told me he liked "All American girls." And it's true, that in a seminary full of WASP Presbyterians, I stood out.

Call me a late bloomer, but in my thirties, I began to appreciate that it was OK to look a wee bit, well, exotic.

Thank goodness for the assurance that is one of the better things about getting older.

But, as we all know, it's what inside that counts -- counts more and more as we age.

And on that score, I have a feeling that perhaps a little more remorse might be in order.

When I shoot from the lip. When I lapse into my drama queen routine. When I don't see the consequences...

Remorse can prompt change. As a friend reminded me yesterday, with a bracing "Are you kidding?" shame can mess with your mind. It is a dead end street, a boulevard of broken dreams.

But remorse...the ability to feel what someone else felt, to walk with them a few steps, to see that inadvertantly or not you have damaged him or her...well, that may be the beginning of healing -- for both parties. For a community. Even for our despoiled earth.

Can you tell the difference?

2 commentaires:

BigLittleWolf a dit…

Remorse is emotion. Regret. Personal. Shame seems like something entirely different. Culturally imprinted. Frequently, artificially so.

Intriguing. Especially your perspective that remorse (genuine regret) may prompt change.

dadshouse a dit…

Exotic looks are commonplace in Silicon Valley. Funny how different places can be.