Archive for the ‘punishment’ Tag

OUTTAKE — CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS   Leave a comment

Before you call out the morality police on this one, remember we’re talking about two very little girls.

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While Jennie and Carl were gone, Hallie and Mona had engaged in a new activity. In the privacy of the playhouse they played what they called “show naked.” No sooner had they gone on to something else than the guilt attacked them. They just knew it was wrong.

Guilt hurts. At least it hurt Mona, so badly that she retreated to the privacy of the bathroom where she could moan without anyone noticing. That night she slept tight – I mean, her body was tight. It was as if she were stiffening herself two inches above the mattress. As the sleep-disturbed nights went on, the days were worse and worse. Nothing was fun.

“I think we should tell our mothers,” she pleaded with Hallie.”

“Oh no, I’ll never tell my mother.” Hallie thought of the switch her mother used as punishment.

The worst punishment Mona had ever suffered was when Jennie washed her mouth out with Lux soap for swearing. That really burned, she remembered. But she’d rather have that than the awful pain of guilt.

So, on the day Jennie went to fetch the fur coat and visit the milliner to design the hat, Mona decided she couldn’t stand the pain any more. When her mother got home she gave her time to hang the coat on the light fixture in the upstairs hall where she always put her new things. Then Mona choked her confession through her tightened throat.

“Thank you for telling me,” Jennie said. “Don’t ever do it again.”

All they did was watch each other urinate, she thought. I guess it’s good they felt guilty. They’re not likely to do worse things.

Mona had been feeling so bad that the relief was almost as good as Christmas. She floated across the back yard to tell Hallie.

Hallie never did tell her mother.

The fur on that coat always had a special sweet feel.

 

Posted March 21, 2020 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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VENGEANCE AND REGAINING CONTROL   4 comments

Yesterday’s post recognized the built-in nature of vengeance. But I think if we probe further there is something more basic behind it. The need to regain control and order. Think of the expression “get even.” It’s as if we can bring things back into balance.

The animal in the wild who is attacked instinctively fights back to preserve his (or her) self and group. Behind it is survival — getting back to a level of safety. Safety implies familiarity — things returning to where they were.

The problem for us in our civilization is that we can never return things to the way they were. Whatever the offense, whether a terrible rape and murder or a personal insult, it is now a fact of life. That old urge to get even can’t work. There is no way to return to the way things were.

So, the best effort is to gain control. To find a way to bring order out of the chaos the offense created. And that’s where using our heads helps. That’s the basis for a realistic approach to whether and how to forgive — to let go our desire for vengeance and bring order — a new order — back into our lives.

It’s something we do for our own sanity and comfort. Does it mean the crime goes unpunished? Probably not. Punishment applied appropriately, untainted by vengeance, may be one way of reassuring ourselves of safety in the future. But back to the issue of vengeance. The basic fact still is, vengeance breeds vengeance — and so is lost the safety we’re after.

Thoughts?

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