The Scott Shaw Blog Be Positive


Penance: Voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.

How much of your life do you spend performing penance? How much of your life do you even contemplate doing something to yourself when you understand that you have done something wrong? In fact, do you ever even contemplate how you can self-correct and/or self-discipline yourself when you have done something wrong or hurtful to someone else? Do you ever even care when you have done something that is considered to be wrong or hurtful or are you so locked into the mindset of selfishness that you never even contemplate the fact that you may have done something wrong?

We all know what is right, just as we all know what is wrong. Killing, stealing, physically hurting someone else, cheating, lying, even saying hurtful things are all wrong. And, there is many more. We all know what things are wrong. But, look around you; wrong goes on all the time. Do you do it? Do you applaud those who do?

All problems with the world begin with you. Just as all problems with the world can be fixed by you. The problem with the problem is, nobody cares about that other person. Nobody cares as long as they are getting what they want, doing what they want, and saying what they want. This is the sourcepoint of all that is wrong with the world. People do not care about the other person. They do not care about their own wrongness. And, they certainly do nothing to correct their wrongs, nor do they possess enough self-awareness to punish themselves when they do something wrong.

When we are children, it is quite common for our parents to step in and unleash some form of punishment when they believe we have done something wrong. Certainly, civilized society has its definitions of rights and wrongs and when a person crosses the line, and are caught doing it, they are punished according to societal laws. But, these are all forced punishments. They are not the individual caring enough about any damage they may have created to actually chastise themselves and perhaps do something to personally reprimand themselves.

Take a moment right now; think about something that you did that you know was wrong. Maybe in the moment you were not thinking about anyone else and did not care about the affect your actions would have on that someone else, but right now, look to one or more of your hurtful actions; bring it clearly into your mind, focus on it. What was it? Who or what did it hurt? Don’t be denial-filled in this exercise, truly chart out what you did. Now, if you had been caught for doing this deed what would your parents, your friends, your society have done to you? Even if it wasn’t something that broke the law, what would someone else have done to you, to reprimand you, if they could?

Most people never think about any of this. They just think about what they think about—they want what they want, they do what they do, and the all and the everybody else can be damned. But, is that the kind of person you really want to be? Do you really want to be someone who does not care about or take responsibility for your negative actions or words. Do you want to live your entire life emanating from a space of lying or making excuses for what you have done?

People get hurt. People get hurt by what other people do. That, in itself, is the definition of wrong. And, there is always the instigator. The person who initially did that something that hurt that someone else. Is that you? Is that who you want to be?

Now that you’ve thought a little a bit about the hurt or the anguish you may have caused, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to be big enough to try to correct your actions or are you simply going to continue to live in denial? Are you going to perform penance?

Life is a pathway of action. Everyday you make a choice to do what you do. If that choice involves forcefully taking from or hurting someone else, then what does that make you? If you are not willing to view your actions of hurt and damage as wrong, again, what does that make you?

All pain and all pleasure begin with what one person conceives and then what they put into action. What have you put into action? Who have you hurt? What have you harmed? What are you going to do about that?

If you are a true person, you attempt to fix any damage that you have caused. Are you are true person? Are you whole enough to perform penance? Or, do you just live your life in a state of uncaring denial, seeking justifications and making excuses to yourself and to everyone else for you have done that is wrong?

All life begins with you. What are you going to do next?