The Missing Shame in American Society

Written by Stephanie Janiczek on August 11, 2013

When we were kids, we did things that were bad and our parents were ashamed of us. We all did that and we were all guilty. We learned from our mistakes. It helped us grow up to be civilized adults. We respected our parents and loved them. We respected our family name. We understood, after getting punished, what it meant to shame ourselves and our families. There was nothing wrong in that rule either. Now days parents shame themselves, and kids follow suit and there are no consequences for behaving in such a way.

We have politicians who are exhibitionists on twitter, others sexually harassing women who work for them and are unapologetic. When Bill Clinton was caught up in the Monica Lewinski drama he exhibited none of the signs that he was ashamed at what he’d done. In fact he is the patron saint of shameless behavior. If it was something that was wrong or awful Bill Clinton sailed past the issue like a boat on white water. And he did whatever it was over and over again. He never paid a price or was forced to feel any shame. Blame his pathological narcissism, or his mother but whatever way you go Bill Clinton is incapable of being ashamed of himself. He merely gets mad that he has to address the issue.

They say waste rolls downhill. If so, then the shameless people at the top are the ones who started this mess. Maybe we never talked about it before or maybe the people pulling this kind of shameless behavior actually had enough self-awareness to be ashamed of their behavior enough to keep a lid on their weirdness or amorality. At any rate one of the biggest reasons the US is in a bad way is because no one is ashamed of themselves anymore.

There’s no price to be paid for bad behavior or disgusting personal behavior. No one cares if they shame themselves, their parents or their family names. And horror of horrors, if a rational person wonders out loud how God might feel about the weirdness just viewed.

I could get very pessimistic but seeing people’s reactions to issues mentioned above does give me real hope (Not the hopey-changey kind) that we are backing away from the precipice. Now if we could only figure a way to unglue Filner’s finer nails from the San Diego Mayor’s office door we’d have a good start.

Image: Caprichos, No. 23; source;; author :Francisco Goya (1746–1828); public domain

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Stephanie Janiczek is a former Capitol Hill Staff Assistant, Schedule C Appointee and Leadership Institute alum. Military Wife, Hunter, Horse enthusiast, dog owner, writer and feminist kryptonite.