Have You No Shame?

A civilized society functions on the premise that its members have a default pattern of reasonable behavior, the adherence to which requires no coercion. There have always been those aberrant miscreants who just can’t behave like everybody else. They represent a threat to the edifice. That’s the point behind having a sheriff, the stocks, the gallows, etc. In everyone else, the urge to indecency is constrained by shame.

It’s a profound emotion that serves an important function, just like how parents feel love for their children. People need to dread the sensation or else everything falls apart. Thus, I’m dismayed at the present and ponder the future with great trepidation.

Take America’s infamous annual “Black Friday” debasement festival as an example. In the past, two forty year-old women wouldn’t throw down on each other over a discounted non-stick frying pan. Why? Shame! Who would want one’s husband and children to witness such a degrading spectacle on television? Plenty these days, and they’re plenty big. The shame instinct has been thoroughly depleted in such femme-brutales. If you’re 5-4 and weighing in at 320, how much dignity can you retain? Although their conduct is inexcusable, the psychology is easy to discern.

The same concept can be extended to men. In the past (I know this from watching old movies), a man would show up to the airport in a nice suit. His female companion would wear an elegant dress and he’d sip scotch on their flight to wherever. Nowadays, I cringe whenever I see some guy board a flight wearing sweatpants, adorned with a neck pillow. I hold my tongue since I don’t want to end up on a no-fly list, but dammit, it sure does piss me off. Perhaps it stems from the fact that once you get dressed and go to the airport, you’ll have to get undressed once again to get through TSA security. “Put yo’ hands ovah yo’ head”- I get it, but does it take that little to break your spirit? How would some dude like this survive a single day with the Donner Party? Travel could be a lot worse.

The point I’m trying to make here is that there are potent forces at work to break down one’s self-esteem in Weimerica. These range from guzzling high-fructose corn syrup to being forced to make declarations about the feminine beauty of a deranged man in a dress as if you’re participating in a Stalinist show trial. Once that happens, you’ll tolerate any affront to your dignity.

However, such personal defeats can be avoided. For many, it requires fortitude of mind and solemnity of purpose to resist capitulation. Still, we’re all different. I’m kept aloft by a pervasive sense of total disgust. The contemptuous disdain I feel for those low creatures I encounter on a daily basis helps to strengthen my resolve. I shun what they embrace.

The list is lengthy, but here’s a few: Sugar? I don’t eat it. A TV? Ain’t got one. Black Friday? I have always, and will always, stay home. Why? Because it feels good to have the course of one’s life constrained by the parameters of shame.

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