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I've never been a big fan of guilt, the emotion. It's just not a productive feeling!

In much the same way that any sensible adult distinguishes between the emotion of love and the practice of it, I think it's important to differentiate between the emotion of guilt and actual remorse. The emotion of guilt is, like most emotions, essentially involuntary. Actual remorse involves the recognition and acceptance of our mistake, and the intention to correct it.

I suppose that's why I'm so irritated when people - parents or significant others in particular - angrily insist that their children or romantic partners must demonstrate that they feel guilt for some misdeed (and not, they always insist, merely regret that they'd gotten caught!). You can compel someone to apologize or make amends, but commanding them to feel an emotion (and insisting that they're terrible people if they can't) is downright cruel.


(Wednesday, INT: EB and JH's apartment, Jamie has his laptop.)

EB: So you're a free man? That's awesome, we should celebrate!
JH: I dunno, Ellen. I'm feeling kinda somber about it. I'm benefitting from a child's death. A child's death that I may have inadvertently caused.
EB: Caused? How so?
JH: I made his head hurt. He may have been taking angel dust to self-medicate, then further self-medicated with amputation.
JH: Who knows how differently his life might have turned out if he'd had access to an extra thirty bucks and my organ donor card?
EB: You can't think about causality that way, Jamie, you can't project too far ahead. I mean, maybe your breathing is influencing a weather system that will eventually turn into a hurricane that kills a million Sri Lankans. Once it's out of your immediate sphere of influence, it's out of your hands.
JH: Where does my sphere of influence end, though? How far along the Rube Goldberg machine does culpability stretch?
EB: I'd say somewhere between the dominos and the popping balloon that causes the chicken to lay the egg.