desh ([personal profile] desh) wrote2009-07-13 11:18 pm

compassion vs. guilt

I've been on a compassion kick lately. (Like with many other things in my life, I have Dr. Dan Gottlieb to thank.)

I realized this mainly on Friday night, during a discussion on an article about poverty, and what we (as middle-class Americans, I assume) were obligated to do to alleviate the global poverty problem; how much we were required to sacrifice. It was really starting to bother me that everyone who spoke began their point with, "Of course I should be donating more, but...". I raised my hand and said, "I need to do more, and my country needs to do more, but I'm not willing to sit here and tell all of you that you need to do more. I'm not willing to let the original sin of being an American be that you will go to the grave guilt-ridden, thinking that you always should have done more. We each have our limits, and when you reach them, that's OK."

Later in the discussion, someone was making the point about how "need" is not an absolute term, and talked about when she was 12 years old and needed $100 designer jeans. Even though we were getting way off-topic, I felt the need to chime in to acknowledge her need and to give her 12-year-old self my permission to need those pants. Of course that need seems silly, but who am I, who is anyone else, to deny that feeling of need?

If you feel it, it's legitimate. Period.

How not Jewish of me! And I think my Catholic stepfamily would be confused too! I come from a family background that is so stereotypically guilt-ridden. And yet I seem to be on a quest to rid the world of guilt.

Be who you are, do what you think you can accomplish, and then dammit, be proud of yourself. (I guess I have [ profile] synecdochic to thank for this too, huh.) You are who you are, and if who you are is happy, or content, or proud; then celebrate that! And I'll be celebrating right next to you.

[identity profile] 2009-07-14 07:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm gonna try.

thank you.

[identity profile] 2009-07-15 01:34 am (UTC)(link)
[Standing ovation]

[identity profile] 2009-07-15 03:41 am (UTC)(link)
hey it's tovah, can i friend you?

[identity profile] 2009-07-15 02:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Hm I don't think I agree. Not all feelings are legitimate... some are selfish, or wrong, or dangerous, or destructive.

[identity profile] 2009-07-16 12:18 am (UTC)(link)
Well what do you mean by "legitimate?" It seems like you're saying that the feelings are just there. Ok. But that seems quite different from saying their legitimate, that seems to accept the feelings. I'd say all feelings are understandable. Like, even if they suck, there's probably some logic or recognizable chain of events that preceded them. But that still doesn't say legitimate to me.


[identity profile] 2009-07-16 06:12 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I'm with you there I'm just not following the word choice of legitimate.

Definitely huge to acknowledge it. I almost wrote something similar responding to one of our blogs today. A report came out that shows that northern schools have a greater racial achievement gap than southern schools. This doesn't really surprise me one bit, but it's sooooo important for people in the north to acknowledge that the fact that we didn't codify Jim Crow in the same way as the south doesn't mean that serious racism, and clearly, even some worse problems, exist in the north.

That acknowledge, embrace, own so you can move on/overcome/deal with it/whatever. So important.

[identity profile] 2009-07-16 06:08 am (UTC)(link)
You know, when I saw the word "compassion" I was thinking I wouldn't be able to agree with what you would say (being a nasty curmudgeon and all that), but I appreciate this post a lot.

I have a boundless compassion for effort. People who try to give, try to learn a new skill, or try to improve themselves are all heroes in my mind for exerting their will against the path of least resistance. So many people don't even make an attempt at giving - either because they don't care, or because their guilt is completely overwhelming and they don't know how to start.

The point is that each charitable gift - of money, time, or just word of mouth - counts a lot to the person on the other end of the giving. And if our successful efforts mean we can afford a thing we've wanted for a long time rather than giving, or that we don't have the time we used to have, that's totally okay. It's part of us being human.

In order to be selfless you have to have some self to give.

[identity profile] 2009-07-19 02:16 pm (UTC)(link)
wow!!! :):)