The End of Guilt
Being blamed for a problem is a painful experience. Blaming ourselves for a problem is also a painful experience. We sometimes seek acute respite from those pains by blaming someone else for our problems — though, doing that usually ends up with us feeling more pain. Why? Because we can’t control other people; just because we blame them for the problem doesn’t mean they’ll fix it.
The only way to get out of this kind of pain is to stop casting blame altogether, and that’s… easier said than done.
I am not writing this because I think casting blame is wrong. I am writing it because casting blame is painful. Just because something is painful doesn’t mean it is objectively or morally wrong, but all the same, being in an experience of pain can often inhibit us from making something right. Beyond this, let’s temporarily suspend our attachment to right and wrong for the duration of this essay.
One of the main reasons we don’t release blame at other people is that we think that unless they are at fault, we must be at fault. The other person has to be wrong or bad or evil or sinful or something — because if they aren’t, then we are. This all stems from the fallacy that, for something to be painful, it needs to be somebody’s fault. Even though this is a fallacy, telling a wounded mind to just release all conception of fault or guilt has this tendency of not working whatsoever.
Fortunately, there is another way. Allow me to introduce Kevin.
This is Kevin. Kevin is the ultimate avatar of guilt.
Look at his stupid face. His eye is practically falling off of his head. He doesn’t even have a nose. You can tell he’s never had a thought in his life, certainly not one about your wellbeing. That face just screams the kind of blasé evil that isn’t even aware of how evil it is. It is pure, unrepentant guilt.
Everything bad that has ever happened is Kevin’s fault. That’s the rule of Kevin, because Kevin is guilt itself.
Now, when you have a conflict that causes pain, you know who is truly to blame: Kevin. You’re not at fault. The person you’re in conflict with isn’t at fault. The totality of the Universe isn’t at fault. It’s Kevin’s fault. Kevin is guilt incarnate.
Because Kevin is the only entity in the universe that can truly be guilty, you can send Kevin to jail. Out of the picture. Rot in hell, you vapid, noseless bastard. Be gone with you. With that, triumphant, you have solved the pain of the situation: Kevin, the very essence of guilt, is gone.
Now, without Kevin clouding up the picture with his guilty, faulty ways, you have some chance at actually resolving the conflict. The reparative, transformative, empathetic healing process can begin. You can see the loving intentions in your own actions. You can see the loving intentions in your counterpart’s actions. You can begin to empathize, with yourself and with them, and create connection and communication out of what before had been a microcosm of war.
Instead of flinging guilt back and forth at one another like meatballs in a food fight, instead of casting it upon yourself or upon another like a magical curse, you can put guilt right where guilt belongs: on Kevin’s stupid face. Really, it’s Kevin’s fault. Kevin is guilt itself. Your mind still has someone to blame, but it’s not you, and it’s not the person you’re trying to resolve a conflict with.
It’s just Kevin. Damn you, Kevin. It’s all your fault. But now you, and whoever or whatever you find yourself in conflict with, can begin the process of healing.
Now, this is not to say that nothing is ever right or wrong. We are temporarily suspending our attachment to right and wrong, just for the duration of this essay, remember? Without right and wrong, and guilt or fault for doing wrong, the real essence of justice can be seen as healing. Injustice is a break, a wound, a fracture, causing pain like a broken bone. Without guilt, we see that injustice is mended with healing. There is no healing in vengeance. Healing is transformation through empathy and inclusion. Empathy is the act of truly understanding, inclusion the act of love.
I think it truly is possible to create reparative transformation without guilt, fault or blame — at least, not on any person. But Kevin isn’t a person. Kevin is guilt incarnate.
So if you find yourself in a conflict, and you can’t get out of the spiral of guilt and blame, powerlessness and shame, stick your foot out to catch yourself before you drown. Stick it out right onto Kevin’s stupid face, and shove his guilty ass down so you can leverage yourself back up. It’s really all guilt’s fault.