Guilt: it’s a powerful emotion.
Guilt gives us the heads-up that we’ve potentially done wrong, hurt somebody else or need to apologise for something we did. As humans, we are flawed beings and so we frequently speak or act before thinking and our decisions may cause us to put somebody else out or harm them in some way. That’s where guilt steps in and gives us the hint that we might need to make amends. Obviously, there will be times when we feel guilty needlessly (perhaps your mind is geared towards feeling guilty too easily) but if we don’t feel any guilt at all then that too is unhealthy.
But on the flipside, guilt is a powerful weapon in the wrong hands.
There are people out there who will seek to make a person feel guilty in order to manipulate them and get them to think/act in a way that suits them. Worse still, society, government, action groups, charities and companies are all aiming to make us feel guilty so that we buy into the bullshit that they are selling. This is what I want to talk about today.
I want to say to you, “stop feeling guilty”. After all, we have enough to feel guilty about in our personal lives – enough crosses to bear without taking on any additional guilt born of problems we cannot control. The examples of guilt I’m about to run through to illustrate my point are all things that we can categorically dismiss with the parting words of “get fucked”. This isn’t about being an arsehole or hampering progression to spite others. It’s about putting our collective feet down and saying “no more” to the people and organisations that want us to feel so guilty about something that we will dance to their tune.
Recycling and the Environment
Both of these are big subjects right now and have been for some time. Should we care about the environment and our planet? Absolutely. Should we be recycling our waste rather than burning through our resources in an incredibly ignorant fashion? One hundred percent. I don’t dispute either directive and only the selfish, closed-minded people living in their own personal bubbles would argue that recycling and looking after the Earth are stupid ideas. After all, the biggest danger to us is…us. We will likely be the authors of our own exctinction.
But with that said, it enrages me when the media or action groups try to make us feel guilty over wastage. We all have to do our bit so that all the small steps form one giant step forward in the right direction. However, the majority of us are only capable of contributing those small steps but even when we do, it’s still not good enough. Here in the UK, we are set up to recycle at home. All recyclable materials are dumped into a separate wheelie bin and taken away to be sorted and (presumably) re-used. That’s us, the little people doing our bit and recycling.
Unfortunately, I then switch on the news and see that recycling has been sent abroad and dumped in another country’s ocean. In short, we do as we are encouraged and yet those recyclable materials aren’t re-used. They don’t even get put to good use in our own country. They just get dumped in some other segment of the globe by our government and the companies running this shitshow. I see this and think, “what is the point?”. We are told that we need to recycle so we recycle. But it turns out that it’s all for nothing and rather than genuinely being green, it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind…until somebody shines a light on the dirty secret of first-world recycling.
So when people try to play the guilt card and say that we are killing the planet by using plastic straws at McDonalds or throwing millions of take-out coffee cups in landfills, I get angry. We are recycling. We are doing as we are asked but once that recycling has been taken away, it is out of our control. If it were up to me, the UK would be investing in recycling centres so that we make use of ALL our plastic, paper and glass rather than selling it off or tossing it in the sea somewhere. But it isn’t up to me. I’m just a working-class joe who actually bothers to wash tins and jars out before “recycling” them. So don’t try and make me feel guilty for thinking that a plastic drinking straw is a good idea as opposed to the nasty paper replacements that turn to mush between your lips. Maybe go after the government and their piss-poor handling of recycling. Just don’t try to send me on a guilt trip because if you do then you can fuck right off.
If the devil drives a car then he is probably driving a diesel-powered vehicle and cackling his way back to No.666 Hell Drive, Helltown, Hell County, chortling about all the kiddies he has passively gassed with his diesel fumes. I’m not sure what it’s like outside of Europe but here, diesel is the enemy right now. Research has apparently proven that diesel emissions are causing lung cancer and are generally a whole lot nastier for our health and the air quality in cities, than petrol. Again, I’m not disputing this research.
What I AM disputing is the guilt that environmental types want to lay on us motorists. Watch any news report on the situation and they will, without fail, show a close-up of a vehicle exhaust exhaling killer fumes into the atmosphere. This is so twisted, it’s unbelievable. First up, when they are showing white exhaust emissions, they are showing vapour not fumes. Secondly, they intentionally focus on an ancient vehicle which is, of course, going to look worse. You’ll never see a camera zoomed-in on a modern diesel vehicle’s exhaust for example. That’s strike one for the biased, agenda-driven bullshit machine.
Secondly, please don’t forget that we were TOLD to purchase diesel over petrol; told that it was better for the environment because diesel gave greater MPG for one. The government here in the UK even sponsored big discounts on diesel vehicles to get people to choose them. Now it is all the other way around. Yes, you can point out that new research and ‘facts’ should naturally override old ways of thinking. BUT, like recycling, the sale of diesel vehicles was once again the man in the street doing as he was advised. How can the regular bloke be blamed for buying diesel? More to the point, why should he invest hard-earned money into a diesel vehicle for business or home and then be made to feel guilty for being The Problem? Most people don’t buy specific types of vehicle to spite specific groups. They buy them based on price and long-term ownership prospects. They don’t buy them to kill kids with fumes or purposely piss off Greenpeace types so don’t demonise the owners of diesel and make them feel guilty. Likewise, don’t expect them to get shot of their automotive investment at a loss in order to please others.
Charity is a fantastic thing but it’s only “charity” when somebody donates time or money through free will. When they only donate to get rid of some pushy moron in the street demanding that they give a shit about cause X and set up a direct debit to charity Y, it isn’t charity. It’s feeling guilty and handing over cash for that reason alone. More to the point, it’s emotional blackmail. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall foul of this form of guilt because the causes are often genuinely distressing.
But you must try to not feel guilty.
A while ago, I was just trying to exit a store when a guy stopped me and began reeling off his spiel about a charity. I tried to say “no thanks” but got suckered in anyway. He then handed me a leaflet and I thought that if I took it, then maybe he’d let me go. But the fucker held onto the leaflet and stopped me walking away with it. By this point, I was getting a bit irate. This was one of the last times that I’d fall for the guilt trick and it was where I learnt the value in not feeling guilty. I just wanted to walk out of a shop in peace for fuck’s sake.
So I tell this guy, “Look, I’m not interested” to which he replied, “Oh…you’re not interested in blind children?”. Making me out to be the baddie. Making me out to be some sort of stone-hearted, uncaring scumbag. It isn’t that I don’t think it’s awful. It isn’t that I would dismiss another human being’s suffering off-hand like that without a second thought. What it came down to was that this particular guy was blackmailing me with guilt and being an utter arse. If I’d have relented and signed up? It would have simply been to get this guy out of my face and I don’t think that charities should be getting results in that way.
The fact is, I already donate to the British Red Cross. Additionally, if I was loaded with excessive money then yes, I probably wouldn’t mind donating a few pounds a month to various charities. But I’m just a normal guy doing a normal, crappy job with extremely average pay that doesn’t really go far enough. In my mind, I cannot be blamed for balancing my own books and prioritising that over committing to lots of charities or responding to every begging letter than lands on my doormat.
Perhaps you think that I am heartless but I am just being honest. It is more the way that charities weaponise guilt that gets my back up and puts me off engaging with them in the first place. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be the person I am and living the kind of life I do in a first-world country. But that doesn’t mean that I should feel guilty for being born where I was born. Furthermore, it is the principle of not yielding to the guilt-laden tactics that some charities employ.
Charity must come from the heart and from the genuine feeling to do something positive for somebody else – not from guilt or shame.
The bottom line in all of this is that we have enough to feel guilty about and we should reserve our capacity to feel guilty for the times that truly matter. The vast majority of guilt being beamed at us by governments, society and pressure groups is designed to manipulate our actions for somebody else’s purposes. It is born of hypocrisy (see my points on recycling) and thus requires none of our attention. If we do as we are advised or directed then we should not be made to feel guilty if higher-ups fail to follow-through on their end. We should not be made to feel guilty for being ordinary people and liking ordinary things. Guilt-peddlers: can you gladly do one please because I’m not interested and it won’t work.