The thoroughly guilty man has an advantage over all of us; he cannot be found more guilty of anything, since he has already found himself guilty of everything. This may sound like an absurdity – causing oneself extreme pain in order not to feel any number of little pains of lesser guilts and shames, but it has its own logic. A man more easily adapts to what he inflicts upon himself; as to his own judgement, he is already committed to it and willing to live with it.

You invoke a new future
when you envision your past
in the light of your present.

Since her retirement from teaching Miss Beryl’s health had in many respects greatly improved, despite her advancing years. An eighth-grade classroom was an excellent place to snag whatever was in the air in the way of illness. Also depression, which, Miss Beryl believed, in conjunction with guilt, opened the door to illness. Miss Beryl didn’t know any teachers who weren’t habitually guilty and depressed–guilty they hadn’t accomplished more with their students, depressed that very little more was possible.

Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.

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