Monday, 7 January 2013

Shame

The other night I had an interesting conversation with a friend about the notion of shame.
It was on the back of a situation when one of his neighbours, high on drink or/and drugs had a fist fight with another woman in the street, and even though police were called, and all of the other neighbours had been involved, the self limiting emotion of public shame was not enough to limit this antisocial behaviour to something more "manageable"
Shame is only an effective boundary marker , when you feel you are a part of a community that you effectively care about. That community may be family and peer based (the "new" mini communities of the new age) or it could mean the community in which you live.
Unfortunately, the wider definition of the word "community" no longer exists for many of us, and without having a respected audience for bad behaviour, shame and the feelings of being ashamed are rapidly disappearing.
There is perhaps still something to be said for that knowing, tight-lipped shake of the head by the local battle axe senior, when your front room net curtains had been left to go grey.

The other day I found bottles of beer that had been left on the church wall. I knew who had left them, I had seen the culprits downing them in the street the night before, so like an over-the-hill, self proclaimed super hero, I picked them up and lobbed them over a nearby privet hedge back into the garden where the "drinkers" hailed from.
Would the owners of the bottles be shamed by my passive aggressive antics?
Of course they wouldn't
but it did give me a brief moment of satisfaction

40 comments:

  1. No shame, no manners, no common sense.
    The nation is going to the dogs....in fact my dog has better manners and common sense than a lot of people these days......and she certainly knows when to look as though she's ashamed...of just eating the last biscuit that happened to be on the plate....a standard poodle's nose is just at table height !!

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  2. Good for you, you empty beer bottle lobber! I love it!
    You have such a good way with words. I don't. But I just did a post on being nice. I want nice to spread...I am so tired of mean/mental people. We've had our share lately in the US. I'm sure we have all over the world....

    Jean...you remind me of the time my late welsh terrier "Winston" ate the chicken strips off of my plate. I had just fixed myself dinner. I went to the other room to get the paper and when I came back, he was standing there with the last chicken strip in his mouth...looking shameful. Damn I miss that dog.

    Cindy Bee

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  3. I believe the culprits will feel no shame but, will curse the bloody bastard that littered their yard. Similar, in nature to an earlier post of mine, I believe the majority of people could give a rat's ass about common courtesies and their fellow man.

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  4. I was constantly told by my mother that one of the worst things I could do was to shame my parents. Today bad behavior gets you on You Tube and shame is something that is seldom a part of our society.

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  5. I think that we are breeding generations who wear shame as a badge of pride.
    Jane x

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  6. You know where I live, John, and some of what I have experienced but I never felt so intimidated as when a few years ago during one of my very infrequent visits to UK I walked through a Leicester pedestrian zone. This was a Saturday lunchtime and as I waded through discarded beercans and fast food waste and observed the yobs shouting abuse and intimidating decent folk, I was appalled.

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    1. Tom, I didn't mean to sound so po faced.
      A lot ofme thinks that if people were included more within communities ( and I am talking everyone here) then the positive aspects of sham would work for everyone's benefit

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    2. You didn't sound po-faced at all, dear boy. If it had been me and I knew where the buggers lived, the bottles would have been returned through their bedsit/squat window having first been filled with a volatile liquid and suitable ignition system and then I would, from a decent vantage point pick them off one by one with the old remington I use to shoot vermin as they exited the front door.

      The thing I found intimidating about my last visit to UK was the certain knowledge that while the smacked out low life ruin everything for everyone else, if I as a citizen stood up to them and gave 'em a good hiding, I would be the one in court on an assault charge.

      On that same visit to UK (I was staying with my sister in a pretty Leicestershire village, some yobs came by in the middle of the night and hurled a load of empty beer bottles into her garden. I was out the door like a shot, vaulted over the hedge and was facing a dozen hooligans. My brother-in-law was right behind me and as I went for the gang leader he tugged me back saying, 'Tom, come back, come back now, they WILL stab you'. I was angry, very angry. I was angry that people could behave that way in the first place. I was angry that decent members of the community just accepted it without doing something about it (if this guy was a persistent nuisance and I lived in the village, he would very soon be found with life threatening injuries in the bogs of his local after apparently slipping on a wet floor) but what really made me angry was knowing that this sort of behaviour is considered only a public nuisance and that offenders, in the unlikely event they are apprehended, face no more than a caution or at worst, the laughably named 'Community Service Order'.

      Talking about shame, did you know that until the Birch was banned under EU legislation, there was no petty crime on the Isle of Man? I went to Sandhurst with an ex IoM copper who, after a good dinner night in the mess, performed the most hilarious mime of an IoM copper administering a birching. Not one, he assured us, ever came back for seconds... Looking at the size of him and his evident hatred of all things anti-social, I could well understand why!

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    3. Now if.you knew the boys' parents then shame would have been introduced the the entire scene.
      We all need to cultivate community gain Thomas

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  7. It's no coincidence that there is a comedy show called 'Shameless' about the lives of the very people you describe. The real shame though is that shops don't give money back on the empties like they used to. That would make sure people took them back!

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  8. I grew up in communities where everyone knew who you were...and what you did!
    But that can't be the whole of the story....

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  9. I think the fly in the web has a point John. If you live in a village community as you and I both do, I think that the sense of shame might well be heightened. A dear friend's daughter was staying with her and we were talking about how we are all popping in to see the friend as she has been very recently bereaved. Her daughter lives in London and says she doesn't even know her neighbours. She says 'we are all suspicious of one another.' What a sad thing the world has come to.

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  10. They will probably feel indignant about the beer bottles landing in their back garden, such are the double standards of these folk. I endured a year of hell at my previous home- my neighbour thought nothing of playing music until 6am, having people banging on the door at all hours to be let in and ' entertained'. I finally cracked, and turned 2 televisions and a music system on full blast at 8am and left the house, knowing full well that she had been up all night, partying and 'entertaining' in the bedroom. When I arrived back at 8.20am she was outside, ready to bang on my front door, telling me I was disturbing her child( the one she shipped off to whoever would have it - and I doubt very much it was even in the house). When I pointed out that she had been disturbing my daughter, who at that time was in the middle of her GCSEs, for months, her logic was ' that doesn't matter - she's 15'. For the life of me I still can't work out why I had to consider a 14 month old, who could sleep whenever she wanted to, while she didn't have to consider my daughter who had to get up and go to school, be ready to get the bus at 8am , and who was in the middle of exams. Double standards are the one trait I really despise.

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  11. I work as a customer care agent for a large telecommunications company in the U.S.(even though I live in Canada. I'm one of those evil outsourced workers waa haha)I have to say that I would be shamed to act like most of the customers who call into my line. I have had people say the more racist,classist and sexist things. I have heard people's private moments from them using the washroom while speaking to me on the phone to screaming(literally) @ their significant others/children. I guess that they feel as if I don't count as a real person, who am I going to tell? I believe in good behavior for the sake of good behavior. It's good for the soul.

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  12. Shame on you John!!!Tee hee! Many years ago a man let his dog poop outside my Nan's gate. She shovelled it up and presented it in a bag to him when he next came out to walk his dog later that day and that was in the days before people were required to pick up their animals 'doings'! I think he did feel a sense of shame and embarassment.

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  13. these stories make me sad because I don't know if the tide will ever turn, and people will behave well again.

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  14. Mr. Foresterman says that whenever my lips look like they are going to say the word "purse", he knows im going to pontificate until everyones ears around us bleeds...

    Shame does have its place in society, because after the word "shame" comes the word "remorse" and if there is no "remorse" then there is no "rehabilitation" in any permanent sense...so God save us all and civilization...but seriously, we all have a sense of entitlement for bad behavior that I do believe that the current culture "cultivates" - its just the level of bad behavior that turns from rebel to boorish where it gets muddy...

    but then I too would say in frustration - "toss away...and give me one of those bottles to toss too..." Sometimes I think its the only way to get through to people where laws and words dont work anymore - is to show them how they have been treating others...how sad that we have to though - empathy is not an emotion nor a feeling, it is a decision - thats what separates us from the other mammals/animals - culture needs to cultivate that amoungst its younger generations that still can be reached - make the decision to be aware of others and the community in order for civilization to survive...

    okay, im done saying "purse" :x ....

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    1. You said all that better than I could ever do x

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  15. Hello again. I live in Lancashire, where I am sure you will know about our ethnic 'communities'. Now in this sense, the word 'community' is an exclusion (I'm not a racist by the way, I'm a school governor at a school with 80% ethnic minorty population) so I can say I've heard most of what the 'community' means. There is also another community from Manchester, the one which comes to live in my quiet town, thrown up from the Industrial Revolution with a lovely old mill that now houses £500k 'loft apartments (you may have seen one of them on Come Dine with me). This community calls us 'the village' and is the reason we now have 'delicatessens' and frothy coffee. We managed fine without, thanks very much! Then there's the bottle tossing, let your dog poo on your doorstep 'scrotes'. Can't make my mind up which I prefer, but the ethnic 'community' bring up children with beautiful manners that are very, very well behaved in our school.

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    1. Perhaps coupled with a sense of community and of shame, the emotion of PRIDE is another possible discussion point here janet

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  16. Here goes. I'll attempt to express how I feel about this kind of situation which arises in our society/culture more frequently than we would like.
    My view is that this 'shameful' behavior arises and shows itself as a symptom of what is not working now in our culture. It is time to address this and the shame either ought to go to the 'parents' and the 'elected officials' for not recognizing the need today to have things...anything but something...in place for these 'kids' who are falling through the cracks that I feel WE created and have chosen to ignore and simply wishing it would all go away.

    It won't until as you said John in one of the replies to a comment that it is a 'community' concern and that is a good place to start. We can't and shouldn't go back to the way things were when we were kids. That time has passed and the wishing for it to be the same is nothing but a waste of time and heading nowhere. We must accept the shame for allowing it to get this far removed from acceptable community expectations and responsibility.

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    1. Interesting point jim, though My point does not just cover the young.....whole nuclear families today live totally isolated lives.....

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  17. When i was a child and people threw refuse out of their car windows, i'd shout "Litterbug" at them and point. My voice has always carried, so plenty heard me say it.

    In my teen years, when i was bit more courageous/stupid, if they threw the stuff out as they approached a stop sign (such as happened in my front yard), i'd pick up the litter, run towards the car, knock on the window, and when they lowered it, i'd throw the trash in and say, "You forgot something," or "You dropped something."

    Living at my last location, we had one dogwalker who refused to clean up after her large dog. It irked me because every other dog owner was very conscientious, and the dog seemed to favour a spot in our yard. Like the commenter's Gran, i got fed up one day, shovelled the poop, and went over to the large dog's house. Knocked on the door, and when the lady answered, i told her she forgot something, and dumped the shovel's load on the porch.

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  18. Personally I'm not motivated by shame so much as thinking that certain behaviour would not reflect the real me, or would make me feel too uncomfortable.

    But it's strange how some people seem to have no inhibitions at all and just behave any way they like, regardless of how appalling the result.

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  19. I'm longing to find the culprit who lets his / her dog cr*p all along the lane so I can scoop it up & deliver it back - I am ready, waiting & determined to act.
    I have a friend who gives dog poop bags out to those who leave their mark outside her door !

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  20. We have a chip shop at the bottom of our road. It's just the right distance away for people to unwrap their burger/slice of pizza/whatever and drop the wrapper on our doorstep. (We don't have a front garden)

    So I started gathering up the junk and pushing it through their letterbox every morning on my way to work. They do litter patrols now.

    Shame CAN work!

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  21. Hi John,
    Shame appears to be pretty much non-existent in the wider community nowadays. Nice one with the beer bottles. The sort of thing that I have done. No lesson is learnt, because the perpetrators don't give a toss, but it makes me feel better, which healthier than the alternative. And at least they have to do something with the rubbish in the end. £10,000.....a cow and a bulldog?.....that is a unique desire lol!!

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  22. I loved your beer bottle lobbing. I am a little ashamed (see there is that concept again) of a similar thing I do. One of our neighbours has a small dog which is never in its own yard. It trots around the street, barking at all and sundry, and crapping in other people's yards. So when it craps on my lawn or garden I bag it up, and drop it in their letter box for them to dispose of. (And yes, I have asked them if they could keep Ellie at home.)

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  23. What Jean said in the first line of her comment. What you talk about is rampant!
    How did morality just disappear? It's everywhere. No shame, no morals. Do whatever wherever and who cares what anyone thinks.
    Is it because we are so mobile as a society now? I don't know, but it's very aggravating.

    Hope you have a good week, John. ♥

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  24. Shame is good, but in short supply. When my daughter's son recently acted up and got a DUI (driving under the influence here in US, not sure of initials over there) she said he did not seem to feel bad at all. When I asked if she told him how his behavior caused HER distress she replied "I could never do that, it would hurt his feelings."

    Bingo.

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  25. Regarding the above. It was my SISTERS son, not my daughters son. My children are perfect of course.

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  26. Now look what you've started! You broach that simple subject of 'shame', and your followers write novels. I too have acted out Simone's dog shit game; I simply said 'I think this belongs to your dog'. Dog owner turned vermilion.

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  27. These solutions to shameful behaviour are great when you know from whence the problem came -- but where I live we almost never know that... Here just because you see a group sitting on a wall swilling beer it doesn't necessarily follow that the wall belongs to any one of them...

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  28. Yes the world is changing, not always for the better.

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  29. what was unacceptable behaviour then has changed to anything goes and its bloody awful.

    Gill in Canada

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  30. Quite philosophical...until the bottle lobbing moment...effective though

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  31. I like what you did with those bottles!

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