ideals, shame, and practical priorities

PROMISE
Origin:
1375–1425; lit., to send forth, equiv. to prōpro-1 + mittere  to send;
DECLARE
Origin:
1275–1325; ME declaren  < L dēclārāre  to explain, equiv. to dē- de- + clārāre  to make clear
Have you ever declared it as your ideal to keep all of your promises? How baout this: have you ever found a justification for not keeping some promise or meeting some expectation?
Consider that when we are holding the ideal of keeping all promises, then we may have a fear of the shame of not keeping all of the promises. The shame comes not from the extent of the fulfillment of the promises, but from the ideal of keeping all promises.
No ideal means no shame. So, we may operate in shame such that even when we make a breakthrough in keeping some particular promise, we soon may return to anticipating the shame of not keeping some other promise, so we may act to avoid the shame rather than from attraction to keeping the specific promise itself.
Of course, our survival may be fostered by that psychological mechanism of shame as a motivator to keep promises that we may not consciously value. We may not understand the value of keeping a specific promise, yet we may accept the possible value and fear the shame of failing to fulfill the ideal of keeping all promises.
With that fear of shame, we also may have an incentive to find justifications for not keeping at least some of our promises. Note that we may take great pride in our justifications.
For instance, if we are concerned about keeping all promises and meeting all expectations, but question our ability in a particular case, like to repay certain debts or pay certain taxes, then we may be motivated to justify non-payment by criticizing the system as unfair, unjustified, illegitimate, or even shameful, such as the tax system or the legal system and so on. Our unwillingness may hide doubts in our ability- even hide those doubts from ourselves. Shame can be powerful like that.
Beyond the common reaction of justifications and blame, we may even criticize or ridicule people for having certain expectations of us at all. That, by the way, is a very different way of relating than either simply notifying them of a more realistic expectation, if any, or simply dismissing their expectation without notifying them but also without justifying the dismissal.
Other times, we may even pretend to be fulfilling expectations when we know that we are not. Again, this could correspond to a fear of a shame for failing to adhere to the ideal of keeping all promises (and fulfilling all expectations).
Consider that if I value keeping a promise simply for the sake of keeping the specific promise itself, then pride does not arise or take root. If, however, I fear the shame of not keeping a particular promise because it would be a failure to fulfill the ideal of keeping all promises, then I might be proud in relation to the keeping of any promise or even all of them. I might shame others and glorify myself.
I might assert that having the ideal of keeping all promises is ideal, or even simply practical. I might assert that shame is practical.
I might also assert that the relief of avoiding shame is pride. Again, pride could be just a relief from avoiding shame. The inherent value of keeping any particular promise may be trivial and the ideal of avoiding the shame of failing to keep all promises may be my operating priority. I may value the acknowledgement of others (to feed my pride) that I have the right ideal (of keeping all promises- or at least all “legitimate” promises and expectations) and also acknowledging that I have avoided the shame of failing to fulfill the ideal. In other words, I may singularly value their approval (whether of a particular one or of “anyone,” in which case a failure to acknowledge me and approve of me could be considered an insult or offense or… shame).
Sometimes, valuing the approval of others may be the priority and the actual fulfillment of the promise may be trivial or dismissed. In other cases, such as issues of survival (“life or death”), the practical priority may be the actual fulfilling of some valuable outcome (whether expected or promised or neither of the two).
Shame and pride may be luxuries of “the privileged.” Practical priorities may be to simply assess what is of practical value, perhaps including any practical value for maintaining a record (appearance) of credibility or credit-worthess (a “credit score“). However, when a credit system is collapsing, as I have been monitoring and reporting for the last 7+ years in the case of the global lending market by which U.S. Citizens can borrow through their social security accounting number, the relative value of the credit score itself may plummet rather suddenly. When no banks can lend, or when someone has so much debt or too little reported income to qualify anyway, then filing bankruptcy may even be of practical value, rather than sorting through which debt claims are deemed by the (alleged) debtor to be most justified. Why not simply assess from the perspective of which payments (investments) are of the most practical value (such as food and housing) and drop any concern for justifiying non-payment of investment opportunities of less practical value?
Why not? Perhaps simply because of shame and pride. When we are afraid of the possibility of being recognized by others as not keeping our promises and expectations, especially if such promises and expectations are deemed justified or legitimate, then we are vain.
The appearance of perfection is then paramount. The practical value of the returns on our investments may be dismissed as trivial. “Yes, the house foreclosed and we were evicted- even though I could have easily interrupted and delayed that outcome simply by filing bankruptcy- but at least my homeless, hungry family can be proud of me for avoiding the horrible shame of filing for bankruptcy protection! Further, I did not give in to the devil and ask for help from anyone, especially not the government, who, as we all know, are very bad people- not nearly as good as I am.”
Instead of valuing the actual practical consequence of our investments, we may value approval. We may value the possibility that others would approve of us enough to save us (or at least should). We may value justification: pride!
“Master, look at me: I am a good slave! Shepherd, look at me: I am an obedient sheep!”
So, courts may somtimes offer protections like bankruptcy laws. Governments may sometimes offer benefits (or tax credits, subsidies, guarantees and so on). Lenders may sometimes offer loans. Insurance companies and pension funds may sometimes keep their promises… or not.
Consider that it may be of practical value to recognize the conditionality of these offers and promises: the possibility that these offers are temporary. Consider that it may be practical to “get in while you can,” but also to be aware of the risks and practical consequences of “getting in,” to be cautiously aware that any of these “privileges” may alter suddenly, even disappearing completely and forever.
When an insurance company goes bankrupt, the policies of those companies may be void. When a bank is nationalized in the socializing of a region’s financial system, the availability of loans from those banks may terminate.
So, welcome to the real world, where, allagedly, things change, though perhaps only sometimes. By the way, even your ideals may have already changed.

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