News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Guilt, Punishment, and the Jammed Machine

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Guilt, Punishment, and the Jammed Machine

We look at punishment from an objective angle only. Subjectively, punishment is for a wrong done, for guilt and, in a theological understanding, for sin. It is the subjective sense of our actions that is contually being eroded by the life-form we live in, the socio-cultural matrix that we make and that makes us. This machine that is our world, the USA...

This world leads us to believe that all things are visited upon us but in reality we often make our reality. Punishment comes in many forms, and in this world we believe that it is always outside us, never inside. And our reality is often, if not mostly, performed and done in fear--fear of others, fear of nature's exigencies, but even moreso fear of ourselves.

With this machine that is the state, we want to put public life on automatic. That is, let's start the machine, let it make the decisions and if we grease it right and follow the specs then we can get time off to be private, to be ourselves which are not public.

But life will not let it be. We won't let ourselves be. For as much as we want to get away from the world it keeps jamming up the machine. Not only that, but being private cuts us off from being with others--those who make things jam up.

So we are never who we are. And because we're never who we are, we feel guilt. With guilt goes the need for punishment. Yes, need. It is, as Simone Weil said so long ago, a spiritual need. But who's to punish and who's to feel that need anymore if there's no guilt but only the machine jamming up?

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