Monday, May 12, 2008

Shame, shame on...whom?


Here is my question

Why do people do everything to "win" by making other people wrong? What's up with that? Is it human nature and something we have to guard against, or is it a result of our narcissistic society?


Dear Lala:


No, no...not shame on you for asking. Shame causes us to behave that way.

When we feel bad about ourselves, that is shame. Some people, have not developed their capacity to deal with those feelings so they project them on to others, making themselves good and the Other bad. That's where the narcissism comes in.

"I am bad" (or as someone I know used to say, "I am the piece of shit the universe revolves around") is shame. "I did something wrong and I feel bad about it" is guilt. We need some healthy guilt sometimes. We need to own up to screwing up and feel bad enough about it that we are not inclined to turn around and do it again for jollies or to make someone else feel bad or to see if we can get away with it. The need to make others wrong so we can be right is not the good kind of guilt or shame.

We try to make the person wrong instead of the behavior. That seems to be a cultural imperative.

Look at our advertising. If we are not like the models we are bad. Never mind the fact that the models aren't even that perfect. They are airbrushed and composites of body doubles and photo shopped to look that good. If we saw the model walking down the street in her natural state, we wouldn't recognize her because she would look like a real person. Yet this is what we are supposed to live up to.

And don't even get me started on Reality TV. Provocative behavior and winning at all costs is required. Apparently, these are the values our culture now promotes because it sells. We live vicariously through this media. Ouch.

Prison shows. Crime shows. Cop shows. Gangstas. Violence. What do we really value? And shouldn't we be ashamed of some of this? I think so.

Parenting styles swing between shaming and over-indulgence. As long as shaming people for who they are instead of what they do is the cultural norm, we will have this tendency.

When cooperation, responsibility for self and to others, respect, and values of interconnected humanity become the norm, then we will ALL start feeling better about ourselves.

Consciousness and personal values will bring us out of this mess. Try to become conscious of the language of shame and the interactions you have with others. That's what I'm trying to do.


NB: None of this applies, of course, to me (in the privacy of my own car) yelling at stupid people doing their imitation of driving.

[...and that last one was a "joke" on me...lest anyone feel a need to shame me for it.]


museofsouthprairie said...

Eckhart Tolle writes about this for a bit in A New Earth if your asker wants to know more. And about those drivers you mention--two days ago I saw a police officer drive pass by on the cross street with a cell phone to his ear, he was speeding, and he changed lanes without signaling, almost cutting off the person in the other lane. His lights were off. Tut-tut-tut!

Wanda said...

Let's talk about the police crimes I have seen.

I go to a gasoline cardlock to buy my fuel. Frequently, the local police are there fueling up at the end of their shifts.

A couple of important safety rules are in place to use the cardlock pumps: 1) Don't use cell phones while standing by the pumps outside of your vehicle because of the potential for static spark. 2) Stay by the pump and don't get back in your car in case of fire or pump malfunction.

So what do I see? A gaggle of about four officers fueling two vehicles, all yukking it of them talking on a cell phone.

Another day, the officer who is fueling his vehicle gets back in the car. I am standing by the pump I am using when gasoline overflows his tank and pours on the ground. I stop his pump and pound on his window. He is OBLIVIOUS and says, "Did it shut off?" I told him that it didn't and it was pouring all over the ground. What did he do? He made a joke of it.

And here's the kicker:

I was at a stop light behind a police car where the officer driving was talking on a cell phone. The light turned green. He didn't move, so I tapped on the horn. He took off--speeding through a SCHOOL ZONE. How do I know he was speeding? I was going the 20 mph speed limit and he PULLED AWAY from me. Hmm. It was at this very same place where a friend of mine got a $250 speeding ticket for going too fast. Makes me wish they had caught the cop on photo radar. Do you think he would have been ticketed? I hope so.