In Perpetuity

Guilt is among the most troubling and torturous emotions. It attaches itself to one’s personality and refuses to release its death grip. Guilt grows from the assignment of blame; not by someone else, but by oneself. It insinuates itself into one’s every breath, refusing to allow even a moment’s respite. Guilt chips away at one’s sense of self-worth, leaving only an ugly shadow of the person who once inhabited his mind and body. No matter how emphatically a person is told to discard the sense of guilt, no matter how hard others try to wash that emotion away, it leaves a permanent mark. A blemish that cannot be completely erased, regardless of how thoroughly one’s psyche is subjected to cleansing through counseling or medications or time. Guilt settles into one’s brain for a reason; “if only I had behaved differently…” History cannot be revised.


If I am not mistaken, today is the fifty-ninth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  That event stunned the world. The world has changed dramatically since then. The innocence underlying our shock and horror fifty-nine years ago is absent today. Humankind has become hardened, jaded, calloused to the horrors of which too many are capable. Fifty-nine years have transformed innocence and trauma into treachery and rage. Only by acknowledging the degradation of human decency can we be begin to overcome that decay; rebuilding civility and dignity and respect for human life. I suspect it will take far longer to retrieve innocence than it took to snatch it away from us. Perhaps we will never again be innocent, but maybe there is a chance we will become civilized and kind.


Let wickedness escape as it may at the bar, it never fails of doing justice to itself; for every guilty person is his own hangman.

~ Seneca ~

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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