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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Shame Is Your Friend II

Judging from the feedback, I think I need to clarify a bit more about what I am saying.
You can't be civilized, or spiritual, unless you first accept the notion of shame as beneficial.  It is necessary, and if you ditch it, you will pay the consequences.
So, what is shame?  Shame is the feeling that one has lost one's proper position in the world and broken the standards of one's relationships with others.  It is more than embarrassment over a misstep, but an acknowledgement that one has fundamentally failed to be what one is called to be.
Adam and Eve sense shame when they sinned.  Are you going to tell me they were too hard on themselves?
Many people these days struggle with their consciences because they know instinctively that they are called to something greater, yet the world calls them to depravity and accepting a low estate.  They are told that the easy way is the best way, and that a life of pleasure is better than a life of struggle leading to accomplishment.
They are told to ignore good and evil, and instead focus on what is desirable.  Sound like Adam and Eve?
So, when they sense in the shame of their choices, they react with rage and, of course, denial.  After all, who wants to admit that one played right into the hands of one's enemies?
This is why poverty and social disorder always walk hand-in-hand with alcohol and drug abuse.  It takes the edge off of that shame that modern man experiences in the wee hours of the morning when he realizes that all of his decisions have led him away from beauty and honor.  The garment of his humanity is torn, and he has no needle to mend it with.
So, he drinks.  Or, he smokes.  Or, he shoots up.
Man oppresses man, but it requires cooperation.  You can oppress a man by taking away his honor at the point of a sword, but you can also take it away from him by promising 'paradise' if he would but bend his knees.
If you tell people that there is no shame in giving up one's dignity for the sake of pleasure, the average man will gladly do so... at first.  That is, right up until he notices that he sold his birthright for a bowl of soup.  Once he realizes that he has done so, he will likely drink and use... and perhaps strike out at the 'society' that took his dignity from him.
After all, there is no shame in the poor man who has struggled his whole life yet remained honest.  There is shame in the man who has kept himself poor by making bad decisions and refusing to learn from them.
There is shame in oppressing the poor, but the blame is to be shared with those who choose to be oppressed in exchange for a life of ease.
We cannot necessarily condemn society as if we are innocent, because we are part of society.  The moment you point fingers at someone else, you are saying they are somehow different from you.  Don't you realize that you and the people around you are embraced by the inseparable bonds of not only a common citizenship, but a common humanity?
What does this mean? 
It means that we all have to take our share of the blame, and our part of the solution.  Change happens when everyone makes the decision to change themselves rather than others.  Accept the shame as your own.  Then ask God for help.
A man who claims innocence is deceiving himself.  Look deep within yourself and ask, "Am I really acting like a free man every day?  Or, am I excusing my weaknesses by blaming others?"
Recovery means accepting the blame and the shame... and turning it over to God.  It means taking our poverty, both self-imposed and the result of theft, and asking God to handle it for us.  We stop looking for human will as the solution, and turn to the Creator, our Father in Heaven.
Accepting the reality of our shame is a powerfully spiritual moment.  It is an essential step in the path of holiness.

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