Are you guilty?

Are you trapped by guilt.  Here is an excerpt from a First Things Article on the idea of incipient social guilt.  I found it wonderfully insightful and worth the read.  You can find the whole article here.

“In a world in which the web of relationships between causes and effects becomes ever better understood, in which the means of communication and transportation become ever more efficient and effective, and in which individuals become ever more powerful and effective agents, the range of our potential moral responsibility, and therefore of our potential guilt, expands to literally infinite proportions. In an ever shrinking and ever more interconnected world, it is theoretically possible for every living person to go anywhere that he or she wants to go, and to be made literally, or at least virtually, present to any other person, in ways that promise to become ever more vivid and high-definition in the future.

“In such a world, where there are few intrinsic limits to what I can do, there is almost nothing for which I cannot be, in some way, held accountable. I can see pictures of a starving child in a remote corner of the world on my television and know for a fact that, if I cared to, I could travel to that remote place and relieve that child’s immediate suffering. Whatever donation I make to a charitable organization, it is never as much as I could have given. I can never diminish my carbon footprint enough, or give to the poor enough, or support medical research enough, or otherwise do the things that would render me morally blameless.

“Colonialism, slavery, structural poverty, water pollution, deforestation—there’s an endless list of items for which you and I can take the rap. The demands on an active conscience are literally as endless as an active imagination’s ability to conjure them. And indeed, as those of us who teach young people often have occasion to observe, it may be precisely the most morally sensitive individuals who have the weakest commonsense defenses against such overwhelming assaults on their over-receptive sensibilities—assaults that may amount to little more than propagandizing and manipulation, particularly when questions of environmental sin are at stake. “

About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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