Evil Rant

The Horrors of Guilt

There is a psychological toxin which plagues many people on this planet. More rampant than any narcotic, and completely socially acceptable; it is the cause of a great deal of prolong suffering, a strangler of personal ability and the root of much self hatred. It is rarely seen for what it is, and is often commended or at least condoned. It is a masochistic indulgence for some, and a truly fatal curse for others. It is guilt.

Old style religion taught us to feel guilty about our very existence; that our carnal existence is shameful (and need I remind you that many people bought this load, just as they're buying what we'll be discussing here). This could easily fall under the category of "old goodness", and is a belief which seems to be currently waning in many parts of the world. However, humanity's masochistic desires have replaced this older version with the new goodness model of guilt. As I explained in the Explanation of "The New Goodness" rant, much of this sort of guilt is rooted in the humanitarian treatment of others and in many cases, just plain not doing enough to "help".

Checking the thesaurus under "guilt", I see that among the list, the word "responsibility" is included. Unfortunately, many people view feeling guilty as a form of responsibility. Even the legal system encourages you to show remorse (even though in most cases, it is obvious the person deliberately did whatever their being accused of). As a villain, I believe that there is a world of difference between personal responsibility and social responsibility. I'm almost fanatical about the former and despise the latter. Social responsibility seems to always involve looking out for other people, or somehow compensating for others weaknesses, inabilities, poor decision making and general misfortune. This often manifests itself as anti-evolutionary endeavors such as protecting people from their own stupidity and various other weaknesses. If you really think about it, those who profit most from social responsibility are those who are least inclined to exhibit any personal responsibility. Which means that if everyone was to exhibit a certain level of personal responsibility and generally able to look out for themselves, while being intelligent and thoughtful about it, then you wouldn't need the concept of social responsibility. Would it would take care of itself and go without saying. Basically, social responsibility is only necessary if you're a dumb ass or feel obliged to help other dumb asses or screw ups, survive and prosper. And on top of that, some of the most personally responsible people are the ones who are expected to show the most social responsibility (you don't get a social position which really matters without some personal responsibility). If you believe that all people deserve a chance and that no one deserves to suffer or die as a result of their own stupidity, weakness or in some cases (but not many) bad luck, then social responsibility, and the guilt which it's so intertwined with, might be acceptable to you. Personally, improving the lives of mindless parasites has never been one of my life's ambitions; but I suppose there's just no accounting for taste.

Of course, there are always people who are comforted by their guilts. Like stress and pain, guilt can preoccupy the consciousness and allow you to feel something. Although I cannot endorse this choice of stimulation (especially from a villain's perspective), I can, at least, sympathize with it. This is not true of many people's guilt, which seems to stem from the rationale that "feeling guilty makes me a good person, so I should". Often, the most extreme version of this is that the individual needs to consider themselves a good person, in order to regain their self esteem, as a result of past misdeeds or at least, perceived misdeeds. Within many people, the generally accepted social idea of "goodness" is irreversibly intertwined with being a good person and therefore positive self worth. The only way that they can regain their self esteem after straying from the path of "goodness" is to feel guilty. Their guilt and their desire for social responsibility is the salvation for their tarnished egos. Society tells them if they wish to be a "good person" then they should feel guilty for any transgressions, and so they do. This also coincides very nicely with self hatred. "I've been a bad person, which has caused myself and, (so I tell myself) more importantly others, a lot of pain. So now I can regain my sense of pride, get praised for my redemption, while simultaneously punishing myself for the pain that I caused (me), all by reveling in guilt." None of these people would actually be this honest of course, and because of their already fragile egos, they will rarely ever admit to this self punishment (unless they feel it will bring them more sympathy or praise, which in the long run would boost their egos even more!).

I'd like to state that guilt is not always a bad thing (however, it's never really a good thing). If you genuinely care for someone, then feeling guilty about indiscretions against that person is natural. This feeling will (hopefully) teach you not to do it again. There are only a few people whom I know, that would cause me to feel this way. It is normally my dislike of drama and conflict that keeps my behavior in line; not guilt. I used to try to be a nice guy regardless of the situation. Although, people will say that they like this better, it is often because this approach makes it easier to deal with you and have their way. Basically, it comes down to a question of whether you want the person to like you, or whether you want them to do things your way. Sometimes politeness and sensitivity are appreciated, but this is often the exception, rather than the rule. Any respectable villain understands the pleasures of being fiendishly polite; nevertheless, if this fails to work then the individual that you're dealing with only has themselves to blame for any harsh behavior or dialog that you may exhibit; and you should feel no guilt about this.

Guilt can be a terrible thing. In the most extreme cases, it can eat away at a person and "makes it hard for them to sleep at night". People have been driven to their graves by guilt. Even in its more mundane forms, guilt can be very unpleasant. It causes stress and turmoil in people's lives. Often, these are the more subtle and unrecognized guilts. Because they are so much vaguer than feeling guilty about a particular incident or factor, they're more likely to continue to fester, unchecked. Although the specifics may be different between them, the new goodness has done its job well in replacing old religious style guilt with an updated version, which has the same basic effects. Instead of feeling guilty about being born, as a sinner, now we are expected to feel guilty about having to survive in this world the only way that biological organisms can. Buy preying on others, as well as doing whatever it takes to survive and prosper. Like the "old style" guilt, the new one is hypocritical. It's wrong to kill other humans, but we're supposed to try to save the environment which overpopulation helps to destroy. There are many other such inconsistencies with new goodness guilts, just as there were with the strict religious guilts. You still can't win! And if you choose to be apathetic about it, than that just makes you a bad person (best option). Too bad, I guess the only solution is to feel guilty or "responsible "for something you have no power over (the sinners of old style religion were made to feel guilty about their natural human tendencies; do you really believe that you're not being conned in the same way, about unpleasant factors in the world which you can do little to nothing about, regardless of what people may claim about "making a difference"?).

The utter frustration which accumulates as a result of these guilts (new, or not), are often what give rise to the biggest assholes in our society. These people feel responsible for trying to always "be good"; which is easier said than done. As a result, they do just say it, while letting the anger and frustration, which has built up within them as a result of their "social obligation", to seep out over time; out of control and always justified or outright denied. You can say whatever you like about being a "good person", but your darker tendencies will eventually manifest themselves whether you like it or not. Only by addressing the source of the problem and releasing one's guilt, can a person be truly content and avoid becoming a rotten, self righteous, ass. It is often the people who preach the loudest about right and wrong, who are the biggest offenders.

Guilt is ultimately an emotional choice, and whether we allow ourselves to feel it or not, is up to us. As villains, we must refuse to see guilt as something admirable. To know that if someone chooses to do something, it is their own choice, and regretting it later is just making another mistake, on top of the initial one. Just say "screw it" and decide that if you choose to do something, than it must be right (for you). Besides, part of the fun of being bad is that you're not supposed to be doing it! Enjoy.

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- False Prophet

May 26, 2007