Bring Back the Concept of Shame

Today in America all the politicians, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, activists and commentators are finally in sync. They are finally admitting in public what the traditional Southerner has known for quite some time. Things are a mess in America and people are so engrossed in their own self-indulgence that they arenít paying attention to the kids they are creating and the fact they are raising them to become monsters. Things are finally coming home to roost.

There once was a time when the general public recognized right and wrong, and people actually felt shame for their actions. That is rarely the case today. Today, if someone is caught doing something that might possibly be considered shameful, the individual will hide not behind closed doors out of a sense of guilt, but will hide behind the concepts of personal liberty and freedom of expression. Twisting the constitutional concepts the United States were founded on to cover their transgressions has become the modern way of deflecting the concept of shame away from the guilty and thrusting it onto those that would hold them to the traditional standards of American society.

In our society today the things that have been honored since the colonial days are now the brunt of ridicule. Virgins are made fun of, living together and out of wedlock births are no longer points of shame, and fidelity in marriage seems to be mocked. Divorce is so common as to be considered the norm. Honesty in school and honor in personal and professional dealings are now considered to be signs of weakness. Where people once hung their heads in shame if they crossed these boundaries, now they wear their immoral behaviors like a badge of honor.

Where is Americaís shame? What has happened to common decency? Did our society reach the pinnacle of civilized behavior and then decide to do a swan dive into the pagan depths of 2,000 years ago? We live in a time when the President of the United States is impeached and then declares that it is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Excuse me? The man is almost kicked out of office for lying under oath about having an extramarital affair in the White House, and there is nothing to be ashamed of? The bigger issue to be ashamed of is on the heads of the U.S. Senate and the American people. The fact that Bill Clinton is still in office after breaking the law and lying to the American people.

Our society needs to recover its moral compass. There is a place for shame in a civilized society. Casting shame on activities that have traditionally been considered deviant behavior can help set boundaries for how a society should act and will help eliminate many of the problems we face today. Shame can help curb the baser appetites and helps to separate us from the animals. If you doubt this, look at those who have cast off the concept of shame and how they act. I would offer one recent example. The two high school boys from Columbine High in Colorado. Their actions were like those of predatory animals.

Jeff Adams
June 23, 1999