Guilt is a powerful thing. A very effective control mechanism.

Take today, for instance. I'm sick as anything, sitting here with a sore throat, a headache that's been going for days, eyes that want to explode and an urge to just crawl up under the desk and sleep. I'm ahead of schedule on all my work by weeks - yet I can't go home and rest. Why? Cos I'll be made to feel guilty if I do. Not in so many words, but simply by the attitudes I have to deal with and comments dropped innocently-enough into conversation. Then there's the ubiquitious sick leave form - "we're checking up on you" material. Add in the fact that it's Thursday. If I end up in bed now and am still sick tomorrow, policy requires a doctor's letter for being sick on Friday. Or Monday. Even if you can't afford to see a doctor. So you end up guilty and at work, spreading your germs through the central aircon to everyone else. And by default contagious guilt too.

Then there's in religious guilt. Having stepped out of church a few years ago, I'm cynically examining the whole religion machine from a distance. I know of too many people who go to church because they'd feel guilty if they didn't. That if they don't pitch up at a certain place and time, or perform certain acts, or look a certain way, or act a certain way (or pray, or read their Bible...) - well then they're all just going to hell. Guilt kicks in, forcing them to conform to the herd. Or else.

There's festive guilt too - see my last post. You know your great-aunt's cousin twice-removed is getting you something for Xmas, so you must reciprocate or you'll feel bad. Or they'll feel bad. Or something. And the shops feed into this particular one, urging you to show your love by giving them your cash in a frenzy of spending madness that has some of us avoiding malls like the plague for fear of being trampled. The ads scream that the only way to show we care is to up the prezzie value. Traditions kick in and say you have to do this, eat that, wrap the other, decorate like an American (winter scenes in summer? yeah right!), or it's not Xmas. So we guiltily go off and do what's expected, leaving fake snow and a wilting pine tree in our wake.

There's educational guilt. I've faced this one for years. Keep the kid in the system even if it's doing him no good, rather than go off and try something radical, something different, something dangerous - that could turn his life into a big amazing successful adventure (or bomb completely - but you never know until you try). If you take him out, you're made to feel guilty for denying him any one of a thousand different things - from socialization (what - with the kids he avoids between class and at breaks?), to success (what about those who forged their own way without a university degree?), to a "Christian education" (nope, not going to even go there). There's guilt loaded on from people who can't understand what you're trying to do. Who don't get that things need to change before it's too late. Who would prefer societal conforming at all costs "for his sake". So the guilt at even thinking of walking another route keeps you toeing the line. At least for a time.

Is there a point to this post? Nah. Just a few thick-head-induced reflections.