How does shame arise?

“Responsibility begins with the willingness to be cause in the matter of one’s life. Ultimately, it is a context from which one chooses to live. Responsibility is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt. In responsibility, there is no evaluation of good or bad, right or wrong. There is simply what’s so, and your stand.

Being responsible starts with the willingness to deal with a situation from the view of life that you are the generator of what you do, what you have and what you are. That is not the truth. It is a place to stand.

No one can make you responsible, nor can you impose responsibility on another. It is a grace you give yourself – an empowering context that leaves you with a say in the matter of life.”

— Werner Erhard

When it is clear to me that [what Mr. Erhard called] “my stand” is a filter that *organizes* my recognition of “what’s so,” then I recognize my subjectivity as a simple fact. I cannot alter the fact that subjectivity is subjective. Further, the entire idea of wanting to eliminate subjectivity is missing the simplicity of what subjectivity is.

My perspective (at any given moment) is distinct. It is not better or worse than any other perspective. It will change over time.

Of course, it is only relative to a certain kind of perspective or filter that a labeling like “good or bad” arise. Words are all just interpretative labels. What in one culture is called evil or disgusting or disturbing may be common in another culture… or even sacred.

To relate to any element of the past as “how it should not have been” is valid, but totally optional. Personal shame is just a social construct. Why do societies shame individuals and create shyness? In our culture, we can respect that it is essential for an orderly classroom. 6 year-olds do not naturally sit quietly in chairs waiting for the holy curriculum to be delivered, right?

So, we have stories like that of Santa Claus in order to govern the behavior of children. Stories like hell and heaven might also be used to influence behavioral conformity. Through the media (including in advertisements), more stories and messages are used to govern perception and behavior.

We respond to our interpretation of “what’s so,” not to the data itself. We construct meaning from the sensory data. The meaning is not in the data. The meaning is a product of our perspective (or “stand”). That is why the school systems and media are so interested in governing the interpreative models used by the masses.

So our “ability to respond” is a function of our ability to recognize meaningful patterns accurately and quickly. 10 people can hear the same sounds, but if only one of them speaks Spanish, that one is the only one who can identify a precise meaning for those sounds.

All of this is very ancient wisdom. Since ancient times, the “human resources” have been managed using these principles.

Some may say reflexively: “but it should not be like that!” A culture’s propaganda can be very effective at hiding simple facts by programming the masses in “how things should be” (what to presume) and “how things should not be” (what to reject presumptively). “Propaganda should not exist” is a central slogan of idealists.



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