Not Guilty?

Most people I've talked to are convinced that George Zimmerman is guilty. Of what exactly depends on who you talk to, but there's a consensus among most young people that Trayvon Martin was the victim of something Zimmerman should feel guilty for. Which strikes me as odd.

Not the Zimmerman part, the guilt part. Public opinion has overwhelmingly swept the nation with condemnation, threats, and an overall sense that he should feel horrible about himself. And what strikes me about that is last time I checked with those leading our generation, imposing guilt was abusive.

photo credit: Steve Rhodes via photopin cc
Alongside social justice, emotional health is near the top of young people's minds today. This shouldn't surprise us since depression, anxiety and stress disorders have increased dramatically in recent years. So I'm in agreement with many of my peers that this subject deserves greater attention.

Growing up, I assumed that emotions were the lesser, weaker part of our human makeup. Consequently, that side was severely underdeveloped and the now megalomaniacal rational side would tear down those who did have more developed emotions. Clearly, suppressing emotions is unhealthy. And yes, I realize how general that statement is.

Because the truth is, emotional suppression has never been exactly equitable. Years ago, certain "un-Christian" emotions like pride, aggression, and ambition were discouraged in favor of more ascetic attributes like passivity, compliance, and meekness.

Today, the former have come to be lauded as healthy and necessary avenues to individuality, self-love, and happiness. And a new set of unhealthy, negative emotions have taken their place: fear, shame and guilt.

But these sorts of arbitrary lists should make us question the various pictures of emotional health we are being painted. Do we really want to be doormats? Or do we think it better to be the boots that tread upon others?

I hold to the potentially naive belief that all emotions work together for the good of those who--well, you get the idea. This means that they all have their place in maintaining the well-balance of a whole, healthy person. Including guilt.

Guilt is just the feeling we get when we do something wrong. Without it, we might be led to believe that we're all innately good people. And all I'll to say that is, in a world where Trayvon Martin's are shot and killed, I'm glad guilt exists.

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