Let’s face it: we live in a society where a lot of people spend a lot of time trying to make the rest of us feel guilty about something. It seems like anytime you look around, someone is scolding you about something. The latest scolder, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, is just the latest person who seems to want to lay guilt trips on all of us for something.
The latest one is “flight shaming.” Thunberg came to the U.S. in a high tech sailboat partly to protest the damage to the climate being done by aviation. Now, the climate activists are declaring the evils of flying, and famous people are talking about cutting back on their flights.
In a way, this doesn’t bother me too much. I was never happy about being lectured about the environment by filthy rich celebrities who fly around in private jets. If you really want to get my attention, take the bus to work or buy a ticket on a commercial flight. Better still, take a Greyhound bus on your national trips. Of course, that still means emissions from diesel engines.
Sometimes, I get the feeling some people want me to think I am the worst and lowest form of life on Earth: a white, heterosexual male. Yes, I am so horrible! I am one of the most powerful people on Earth (I am? Since when?). I owe everything I have to my white, heterosexual male privilege. My kind are responsible for horrible crimes against humanity and the Earth. If I refuse to accept any of this, I am a dirty, rotten white supremacist RACIST!!
Maybe I should shoot myself.
There are other things I’m told I should feel guilty about.
I drive a car that uses gasoline and pollutes the air. Guilt, guilt, guilt!
I eat meat (which shows I’m heartless towards animals) and fast food while others starve. I use plastic straws and grocery bags that pollute the Earth. Guilt, guilt, guilt!
I get my electrical power off the grid from a power plant that burns fossil fuels, contributing to climate change. Guilt, guilt, guilt!
I wear clothes made from cotton and synthetic fibers, both of which are contributing to pollution. Cotton is also a symbol of racism and white supremacy. Guilt, guilt, guilt!
Finally, no matter what I do to try to atone for these, my sins, it’s never, ever enough! Guilt, guilt, GUILT!!
What’s worse is when we learn we’re being told to feel guilty about contradictory things. What’s really bad is learning the thing you were made to feel so guilty about was something that wasn’t so bad after all. Even worse than that is learning what you were told was the right thing to do was actually the wrong thing to do.
In fact, there is so much contradictory information out there about the things people are trying to make you feel guilty about, it’s sometimes next to impossible to know what the right thing to do is.
It seems like I can do nothing right and will never be able to satisfy many of these people. But you know what? I discovered something very interesting.
A lot of these people who are trying to make me feel guilty are also asking me for money. That’s partly how I atone for the evils they have attributed to me. I give them money. The panhandlers who tell sob stories to get you to give them money have nothing on the hucksters who ask you to pay for your alleged sins by giving their organizations money.
From what I’ve seen, the business of making people feel guilty is a big business in America. It’s almost as good as starting your own religion when it comes to getting people to give you money.
Here’s how I see it: worry about yourself and your family and pay little attention to the guilt hucksters. Change the things in your life that you can change, and accept the things you can’t change. Take time to care about the others around you and try to make their lives better. If you’ve done wrong to someone, apologize for it and try to make amends.
Life is too short to walk around feeling guilty all the time, especially if you’re told the best way to stop feeling guilty is to give some huckster your money.