Guilt

This weekend I watched a certain video and it got my inner debate about guilt going again. I had come to terms with it, more or less, but then it all got loose in my head again. Maybe everything was my fault? Maybe I am guilty and no one else is? Who would judge me? With these question the urge to ask everyone’s opinion returned as well. I would like to tell some people my story and ask them if I think it was my fault. On the other hand, I don’t want to tell it, because I would feel bad if they’d say it was my fault. However much I agree, I want to hear them say that I’m not guilty. I want to ask everyone for forgiveness. I want to ask for forgiveness while I only need to forgive myself, really.

This dictionary defines guilt like this:

1.

the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability:He admitted his guilt.

2.

a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.

3.

conduct involving the commission of such crimes, wrongs, etc.: to live a life of guilt.

Interestingly, they also define it as a feeling of responsibility, whether real or imagined. Guilt isn’t necessarily based on facts. It’s not black and white. There is an entire gray zone for every feeling, including this one. It’s very well possible that I blame myself way too much for what has happened. It’s very well possible that it is my fault. In the end though, I will never know, because there is no real answer to this question. No one has the right nor the ability to say how much of it was my fault and how much wasn’t my fault.
And yet I fear that people would judge me and think less of me. It would hurt immensely if someone who’s important to me would tell me that yes, I am guilty and no, (s)he doesn’t think I’m so “valuable” anymore. So far none of my friends has judged me, but who knows, maybe someone who knows me in another way would?
I do feel regret, and maybe that makes up for guilt, in a way. We want murderers to feel regret after all. I only harmed my own feelings, but maybe the thought of regret compensating guilt could make it better.
In order to feel comforted without telling you what happened, I would like you to judge this case, not regarding the consequences:
Imagine you know a man. He seems to be thinking of death a lot, you are talking to him about it and he seems to think it’s not bad, it could even be good. He lets you listen to a song about suicide. He hands you a gun, and when you load it, he turns to you so you could shoot him straight in the heart. However, during all this, he is high on morphine.
Would it be okay to kill him?
And if he weren’t high on morphine but living through a rough divorce, for example, would that make a difference?
(Luckily, I haven’t killed anyone, nor am I high on morphine. I just spent a while thinking about wrong and right and that’s when this all came up again.)
(It’s WordPress’s fault that the spaces don’t show. If anyone knows how to solve this, please tell me. It’s so annoying to read…)
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One line is my sins, the other forgiveness for these sins – part 2

~ Arvo Pärt

Read part 1

If there is a line of my sins, then there should also be a line of forgiveness. A few days ago, I felt its roots. Suddenly a part of me decided that the guilt I spoke of was exaggerated. I admit that I’m to blame as well, but this was one single event, one single time, and I’m convinced it’s not all my fault. So this strong-willed part of me was fed up with the guilt and decided to let it go.

I’m still doing my best to accept, to believe that there are no other consequences than me feeling somewhat bad about it. The only damage is a hurt ego. Whatever the damage was though, there is no point in reminding yourself of your guilt over and over. I did something stupid. I did something stupid.

But I only did it once, and at least I know it was wrong.

Normally, it doesn’t take long for me to find my crown again. When you wear a crown, you have a straight back. When you have a straight back, you are strong. I’ve always felt a certain pride, a certain self-respect when someone hurt me. The fact that this time, I stupidly took part in something that hurt me, made it difficult to feel this. It is, though, always the way out. If I have my crown, all will be well. If I wear my crown, it means I have forgiven myself.

It doesn’t happen just like that, but I felt the line that’s forgiveness, and that is good. Something will eventually distract me and classify this under ‘things I did when I was young’. I’m not the only one doing stupid things. And it could have been worse. I will never think of it as ‘good’, or even as a ‘good lesson’, but it shouldn’t haunt me anymore. It should be what it is: history. And only that.

Do you want to hear what it sounds like, sin and forgiveness? I think I can hear it here:

One line is my sins, the other forgiveness for these sins

~ Arvo Pärt in an interview with Björk

However you approach the situation, you will always come to the conclusion that I bear some kind of guilt. If I would take this to court – which I would never do because it’s not so bad at all, but if – they too would come to the conclusion that they couldn’t charge him with anything. Not because of a lack of evidence or something along these lines, but because of something way worse.

I let this happen. I even participated. There isn’t a single sign of the fact that I might not have wanted this to happen.

There are two things in my defence, though it sounds pretty weak: I wasn’t really myself at the moment, and I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do. Something in me was apparently afraid of disappointing people. Unfortunately, this occupied my brains more than being afraid of what this meant to me. Somehow, I gave up thinking what I wanted and only did what I thought I was expected to do for the other.

Which, of course, I shouldn’t have done.

This might not be an excuse, but at least it’s an explanation. Also, even if the hypothetical court couldn’t charge him with anything, let’s not oversee the fact that there’s something like morals. Rationally speaking I’m guilty, but looking at it from a ‘moral’ point of view, I think we would all judge him too. Taking advantage of someone is wrong. Always. Even if the other person doesn’t realise he’s being taken advantage of.

If I would be able to turn back time, I know I would return to this very specific moment to make sure I wouldn’t let it happen. It took away a piece of my trust, my self-respect, my dignity, and I want all that back. Unfortunately I don’t have this possibility, but the least I can do is learn from my mistakes and never let it happen again. Not because of the fact that I could be judged, but for myself. So I will never feel used again.