Culpability

Have you ever thought about the word Excuse? It is legitimately the antonym of accuse. Whereas accusing somebody involves apportioning blame onto them, excusing them is the act of removing blame from them. It is considered polite to ask another person, even a total stranger, to excuse you for your actions. Making an excuse for your own actions, however, is frequently looked down upon.

Once I was hosting an 18 year old German student in her travels. I burped and said “Excuse me” in her presence. She turned and looked straight into my eyes.
“You didn’t mean that.” she stated accusatorily.
“I…..suppose you’re right.” Following this guilty admission, I briefly considered how to excuse myself for excusing myself. Then I realized this was bound to be insincere as well. Her perception was accurate. As I don’t feel guilty or perverted for my natural human body functions, I don’t truly see the need to constantly excuse them.

The other quintessential meaningless platitude which humans use to alleviate their guilt is “I’m sorry.” I personally find this to be one of the most insincere phrases in the entirety of the English language. I have recently been making war on the word sorry in my world. I find “That’s my fault” or “My bad on that one” to be far more satisfying. If you truly care, you can take visible steps to correct your mistake or insure that it will not be repeated. Simply repeating two overutilized words and expecting forgiveness is ridiculous.

Riding this train of thought on to the next station, one would be greeted at the platform with this question: Are responsibility and blame two sides of the same coin? Can one exist without the other? Taking responsibility for your actions is an intrinsically generated response which recognizes your role in a situation. Asking somebody else to take responsibility is suspiciously close to blaming them, and often viewed as imposing on the other person.

So here we have a dilemma created by societal views. Distributing blame to other people is bad. Absolving them of blame is good. Accepting your own guilt or blame is good. Avoiding it with excuses is bad.

But why do guilt or shame exist at all? If everybody accepted their own responsibility would these concepts be necessary?

This is not an answer that I can give you. Like so many, you have to find this one for yourself.

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