I accidentally overslept this morning and missed an appointment. I am ravaged with guilt. Not piddling, nagging guilt that occasionally rears its head in quiet moments (whenever those are), but wreaking-havoc-on-my-entire-day-making-me-think-I’m-a-horrible-person guilt. And I’m not even Jewish. Or Catholic. I can’t imagine the double dose I’d have in either case.
Why is it that some people can sleep around on their wives and mistresses, blame it on patriotism and travel through life guilt-free? And others who drink and drive, sell houses to people who can’t afford them, declare war based on fabrications, shoot wolves from helicopters… where is their remorse? Why aren’t they curled up in the fetal position, wishing they were better people with higher moral standards? Or at least some moral standards?
But no, those people seem just fine with their intentional and unintentional failings. I, on the other hand, still cringe when I recall having stolen two potholder loops from a boy in second grade. If I could find him on FaceBook, I’d track him down and return them. Of course, there’s a chance if I did find him, he’d think I was a psycho stalker, but really, I just feel guilty and would like to return what is his. Don’t even get me started on the time I fed doodle bugs to my sister and called them raisins.
Is there a guilt gene which you either have or you? I would feel better if science could find this gene so that I wouldn’t blame others who make stupid life choices and express no remorse. I could just say, “Oh, well, I guess Charlie Sheen was born without the guilt gene. It’s not his fault. All that tiger blood must have washed it away in utero.”
There are some advantages to having been born feeling guilty. It’s probably what has kept me from a life of crime. Well, that and sheer laziness. Who has the time or energy to plan out a bank heist, for example, and then figure out how to spend the money without getting caught? I barely remember to take my vitamins.
Guilt has also kept me in relationships until long after they were over. That might not sound like a good thing, but when I tell people I’ve been married three times, at least I can add, “I was married for 27 years.” That sounds impressive. No Hollywood, divorce him while the ink is still wet on the marriage certificate for me. Hell, I still answer the phone when my ex calls, despite the fact that all his calls begin with “When I die…” and go on to explain to me some complicated scheme I will need to follow to sell his Hot Wheels and gun collection after he’s gone.
I don’t think I’d want to be one of the guilt-free. How would I know where the boundaries are? I might just have to become slutty and take up drinking and check fraud. Nope, I’m pretty happy with my guilt gene. I apologize for that to everyone I’ve ever hurt. And if you need pot holder loops, I’ve got two you can have.
Comments on: "The guilt gene" (1)
These observations about guilt and remorse are hilariously true, and disturbing too. You’re right about the guilt gene. Why do those who have the most power to do damage seem to be missing it?