Theatre poster of the week, The Jungle Book.
No Shame Theatre post of the week.
(lights up full)
How many of you here on this idyllic Sunday morning are victims of your memories?
How many of you here today can’t remember your first girlfriend’s eye color, but remember every embarrassing incident and every shameful moment you’ve ever experienced? You can’t remember things you’d like to, but can’t forget things you desperately want to? And you remember these events at the most inconvenient times. I think you know what I mean…
Joy can be fleeting. Happiness, ephemeral. Shame though – shame is eternal. Or so it might seem… Unless you fight it friends – fight it with every breath and every glance down your neighbor’s blouse. And fight it you should, because contrary to those figures that our scientific kinsmen ballyhoo, it’s Shame that is the number one killer in this country – the Demon Shame.
Shame seems a necessary fact of life my brothers and sisters. But it is not. Shame is merely the memory of hubris or bad timing or ill luck. The fault is not in you, not in your stars, but in your too-active memory for transgressions observed. A transgression not observed is surely no transgression at all.
Who told you “You should be ashamed of yourself!”? Was it your mama?
Do you think that Bill Clinton’s mama told him he should be ashamed of himself?
And if she did, do you think he listened? Should he have listened?
What separates great men from merely average men? What lifts a dyslexic coke-head and a drunk oilman to the highest position in our land? Is it shame? No friends – it is assuredly not. To be great requires that you understand shame, that you know it, that you have wrassled with it, and that you have defeated it. Again and again.
If you or I experienced a “Lost Weekend”, or wake up in jail, or accidentally went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard, we would be prone to letting that change us. To becoming ashamed and letting life take us by the short hairs. But not the great men, no sir! When our esteemed Vice President got pulled over for his second DWI, do you know what passed through his mind? It wasn’t “Oh my god, I could’ve killed those children!”. It wasn’t “This time they’ll have my license for sure”. And it surely wasn’t “I’ll lose my job, my wife will leave me and I’ll go to jail”. No no no! What would be the sense of that?
You can be sure the big Dick pursued a much different line of reasoning. “Well, I guess that makes me about 186 and 2. I drive right well when I’m tanked up”. And that, friends, was that. Not for him the paralysis of the conscience-stricken. Not for him the wishy-washy feel-good hand-waving of atonement. No indeed! He had a job to do, and he’s doing it. Shouldn’t we all be doing our jobs?
Too too many here among us today start at a deficit, as the victims of a Liberal Arts education. Too many have sworn to learn from the mistakes of the past and promised never to become like Alexander the Great, like Stalin, like Hitler. And that’s all well and good. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water friends.
It’s all very well to say you’ll never be like old Shicklegruber, for there are many facets to the man’s personality that were odious and undesirable – His fashion sense, his absurd vegetarianism. But look also at what made him an effective leader. His total lack of shame was little short of a miracle. He was a tiny little dumpling of a man – an ugly, surly drunk with a bad mustache. He had nothing to live for, but he did it all. And why? Because he had no shame.
But how can Mr. Hitler’s better qualities help us today? How can we benefit from his example? Not with your petty provincial code of silence for one thing. Shame must not be fought in silence friends. Not in silence, nor quiet contemplation in a hidden monastery. Not in isolation or at a remove from the world. You must fight this fire with fire my friends! Every time you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you just take some more cookies. After all, you deserve them!