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led astray

January 2013

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amulet

shame

I just watched a movie strongly themed about shame.  I understand about personal shame.  I haven't ever really understood family shame.  If one member of your family does something shameful, why would the whole family be stigmatized?  Why would a shame be carried by someone who did not cause it?  This is one of those things I just have trouble comprehending beyond an intellectual level.  My mother, for example, has done some shameful shit in her time.  Should I be held responsible for it?  Or mother's mother?  What makes her problems our problems?  It reminds me of team spirit, school pride, nationalism, and spectator sports.  These are behaviors I can bearly fathom.  I feel the urge to protect those I love.  But those I love are not all and only in one group.  In that way, those behaviors look to me like racism.  Someone picked a random thing about some other group that defined them as others, and dedided to vilify that thing.  So all people of this sports team suck, all the people of that gender suck, all the people who go to that school, and all these people with different color skin, as well as all thier friends and relatives, suck.  Therefore, we must marshall our xenophobe army againt the things that are not us.  I don't really get us-and-them.  They don't exist.  We exist.  Shame is a tool to forcibly turn one of us into one of them.  But why the fuck do we need to have a them?  If we don't have to have them, then we can drop shame.  Just give it up as useless.  So shame is also this thing we feel, the anxiety of being made into one of Them, Not Us.  This seems to me to be an intensely personal experience, driving into a life for a requsite trait to be tormented.  What is the purpose of shunning others associated with the shamed?  In shunning more than the individual, the group, rather than ostracize the one to lonliness, creates a unit of closely bonded others who are propably pissed right now.  So is the sharing of shame a kindness, or a torture?  Is it worse to be alone, or to be surrounded by people who are angry at you?  I think they both suck, just in very different ways.

Anyway, besides the movie, what got me thinking about shame was an embarassing moment I had today.  I feel shamed.  I understand why this happened.  It wasn't anyone's fault.  Sometimes shit just goes wrong.  And it was microscopic, cosmically, and I might have been the only one who noticed.  So I started thinking about what it means to feel shame, or to cause someone else shame, what purpose it might serve.  So then I see this movie...
...and Hoyce came Home and totally derailed my brain choochoo.

Comments

Family shame is sometimes a cultural expectation (society rejects a family because of an action, because it's "what you do"), or it can also be a shame someone takes onto themselves, inappropriately, out of a feeling that they could have stopped whatever bad thing occurred. I'm more personally familiar with the latter, given my history.

I don't like the us vs. them, either. I've worked hard, my whole life, to define myself by my actions, rather than be judged for my family's crimes.

Most people like to make quick judgments, and knowing a family's history or reputation is often enough for the general sheep to make that quick judgment. If you know how someone's family behaves, you know one potential for that individual. What the populace fails to realize is how many potentials a person has. Look at us: we grew up with great potential to be horrible, and we've done everything we could to not be.
I am guilty of making fast judgements. I have my predjudices (frat boys, women who wear so much make-up you can't see what they look like, guys with just a moustache, etc), but they are individual. *shrug* It was more poignant last night. ;-)