Tuesday, July 05, 2005

On Guilt

Over this long holiday weekend, I celebrated with my family and friends. We celebrated our freedom and our fortune. We enjoyed each other's company. We celebrated our country's uniqueness and we realized just how lucky we are to live in the United States. A land full of bounty and blessings. A land we where can disagree openly and honestly.

And I read this post regarding guilt. It got me thinking. What is guilt? According to dictionary.com it is:

"The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense. See
Synonyms at blame.
Law. Culpability for a crime or lesser breach of regulations that carries a
legal penalty.
Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong. Self-reproach for
supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing. Guilty conduct; sin."

I do not feel guilty because I live in a wealthy country. I do feel blessed, fortunate, just plain lucky. Whatever - you choose the word. Because of these blessings and fortune, I do feel compelled to help those who are less fortunate. But I do not feel guilty.

I believe that guilt is an emotion brought about by the result of some wrong doing. Because I live in a wealthy country and enjoy many of the blessing that entails, have I somehow done something wrong? I would say no. I work hard. I try to do good every day in the little piece of the world that I inhabit. I recycle. I pray for my friend's little nephew, diagnosed with cancer. I say please and thank you. I donate to the local hospice that provides comfort to the sick and dying. I donate to the local food pantry. I give my friend a hug when she is feeling low. I am a good person. I can be a better person. We all can. But I do not feel guilty.

Hunger and hurt and death and destruction are all around us. Guilt will not change that. Yes, we can always strive to do better - to recognize the hurt and pain in this world - to find ways to diminish hate and hunger. To focus on ways to make life better for those we can touch. But feeling guilty is not necessary, nor is it productive. I believe it is wasted energy.

If an event such as Live8 opens our eyes and moves us to action, then all the better. It has succeeded in its mission. But I for one, will not feel guilty because I live in a wealthy and bountiful nation. I will feel grateful and blessed.

1 comment:

Liz said...

I have mixed feelings about this country of ours. I wish more people were like you: caring, generous recyclers. And maybe more people than I realize are. The problem is when our government does not display the same traits of generosity, kindness and caring to the rest of the world. When instead of spreading peace and kidness, we spread war and hatred.

I don't know what the answers are, but I feel that the leadership of this country needs to be Christian in more than just words. Actions do speak louder.

Great post, Lisa.