Culture of Guilt

We live in a culture that is organized around trust betrayed.

It seems to be a happy loving family, and yet the child is given a calf or a lamb to raise, and to love – really and truly give her heart to this animal that needs her as a baby needs its mother. And then she must send it off to market to get money for her college education. And everyone celebrates and she gets her name in the paper with a picture of the now-dead baby.

Or to raise up a pet cat from its infancy and never really understand — that animal loves you as you would love your God if you had one. And then just give it away, or worse throw it out by the roadside.

The thing is, we have all done it, one way or another.

I don’t know what to think about that. Or how to feel.

Because even the animal rights activists, PETA, do exactly the same thing, in reverse, and it is the thing that is wrong. The suffering. Not the intention. They all have good intentions, but it is what you do that causes the pain, not why you do it. And none of us can afford to really see what we are doing, because of the load of guilt we would have to deal with, and we don’t know how to deal with guilt. We just go out and kill a few more “enemies.”

Christianity understands guilt; there is the story of the innocent crucified. I don’t think Buddhism does understand. There is a story about a monk walking across a field of carcasses after a war. It was not his war, but the punch line is that he was completely unaffected by the carnage.

Neither of these stories is very helpful to me, as a member of the culture of guilt.