I realise the guilt is becoming a problem again. I realise this because I'm awake at half one in the morning. I've had a few disturbed nights with the pain lately, but there's niggling as well. So if I use you as a Priest and confess all, maybe I'll feel better. I haven't used the blog in anything like this way for a while, but hey, it's my blog.
The main reason I feel guilty right now is that I actually did something rather nasty. I wrote an e-mail earlier this evening when I was tired, pissed off and had some steam to let off. I wrote it to a trusted friend but in it, I was really very horrible about a third party. I mocked someone in a very personal way, someone who I don't know very well at all and who hasn't done me any harm except to annoy me. And that's really my problem as opposed to theirs.
It was totally unfair. And even though my friend isn't their friend, and I trust my friend implicitly, as soon as it was sent – which I naturally did in a hurry without thinking – I began to feel panicky about it. I began to think of bizarre (read outrageous) scenarios in which the subject of my venom would come to learn of what I had written. I felt like throwing up with the horror of what I had done - really. It even occurred to me that if Al Queda were intercepting my e-mails and they turned up and threatened to publish that e-mail on-line if I didn't blow myself up in a public place, I might feel a bit conflicted. What can I say? It's late.
There's a part of me that says, that was nasty, but it was ultimately harmless nastiness; the victim will never have an inkling and your friend is unlikely to think less of you for it (my friend who probably gets tired of my usual wet fish sympathy for all humankind outlook). And if that e-mail is, as it probably is, the nastiest thing you have done to anyone in ages, then you're probably quite a nice person.
My imp, who is naturally on my shoulder throughout all this, says, “But you're not a nice person. If you were a nice person you wouldn't do such things full stop. Also, since you do feel so extremely guilty about what is currently a victimless offence (at least until the series of inevitable freak accidents which will lead to the e-mail spreading throughout the web), this renders all your niceness void. Clearly you are just nice to people in order to selfishly avoid the agony of your guilt.”
My imp is kind of clever in a stupid way. I'm very tired, so I can't work out why that's stupid. Or is it? One could argue that someone with a powerful conscience is a fake since it is ultimately selfish to act in order to avoid guilt or make oneself feel better by being nice to people. Therefore, only a person without a conscience is truly free to be good or bad. Which is interesting because when we talk about psychopathy, which is supposedly the state of not having a conscience (a highly controversial label), we assume that a psychpath always behaves badly because they have all the self-preserving instincts of human nature without the altruism which keeps such things in check for the rest of us. In theory they could chose to be good. But yet to what extent is altruism instinctive and to what extent is it learnt? And can altruism be said to be the thing gives you a conscience, what causes you to feel guilt? In any case, if a person without a conscience chose to be good, could they be said to be a nice person, or would one have to conclude that they came to their choice through a process of logic as opposed to compassion? And is compassion a more valid motive than logic? And is compassion a more valid motive than guilt? What? Shut up!
Okay well, that's probably sorted both of us out for a good night's sleep now, so I won't bother boring you with all the other things I feel guilty about which I was planning to list. Yes. Good.
I should add, for anyone who is as paranoid as I am, that the person about whom I was so shamefully horrible is extremely unlikely to be reading this. It definitely wasn't you.