Shame is a distorted mirror in our society
By Isil E. Celik via UN Volunteers
I have had a wondrous weekend with the ones that I am in love with. We wandered around days and nights smoothly in a beautiful world, then closed the door and slept together feeling secure.
Monday morning I learnt that during the weekend the head of the Diyarbakır (Amed) Bar Association Tahir Elçi, a lawyer of Kurdish origin, a human rights activist was shot dead in Turkey. He has been receiving death threats and he was facing a prison sentence for supporting Kurdish rebels.
The Kurdish movement in Turkey is the same age as me. The attacks against journalists, activist, against people who fight for freedom, equality and peace is far older. On Monday morning after I read Elçi’s death in the newspapers, I read more about his life. I regretted that I didn’t know much about him before he was killed.
This is neither the first, nor probably the last time we feel pain because of losing someone, yet this time something is different for me because now I am in love and I feel everything subtle and more intense. As usual, I felt ashamed of being a citizen of a country that lets those who seek peace get killed. I felt ashamed because we are still living in a world where people are shot dead because they want a peaceful world for all.
Then, under flying autumn leaves and the first rays of winter sun I wondered if I should have felt shame because of being in love and joyful while many others are suffering. Millions of refugees are searching new territories to escape from wars, the nations of the world are negotiating on devastating effects of global capitalism on our -so far- only possible environment in a democracy capital, which is actually in a state of emergency because of terrorist attacks that diffuse more and more fear tearing people apart. But how can we even think about feeling shame because of love and joy?
The mirror which shame gives us to see how we look like is a distorting mirror. The more we affirm shame the more we feel shameful. Yet shame is a meaningless feeling that feeds on us being too much concerned about our images and about ourselves. It is about learned expectations that reduce the world into images that we think we are condemned to. It is what pushes us to little corners where we are more and more swallowed by a narcissistic vortex where the more we feel shame the more we get separated from each other.
Shame is difficult to share, but it loses its meaning, its power on us and disappears when it is shared. Maybe that is why it is difficult to feel shame when we are in love. Because in love we experience the world beyond our own selves and we enter into the domain of collective. We accept and feel accepted, which means there is no place for shame in love.
Within the alienating and separating societies we live in it is impossible to not to feel shame. But it is also possible to get over it and learn from it by sharing it. And, we should do so because in the coming decades, humanity will continue facing an unprecedented incertitude about the future. We do not know if we can find solutions to the complex problems that have been effecting radically our environment and our cognition leading us seemingly to new conflicts and wars.
It seems like to communicate the vast knowledge we acquired so far on behalf of life is the only thing to resist with. This means that we should shift from “I” to “Us”, from “Shame” to “Share” because if there is a way out we can’t make it alone.
Meaning is constructed collectively and shame divides us apart into lonely corners. To share lets us stand together for a meaningful world. If you ever feel shame because of anything just share it. Future is about #SharingNotShaming
My name is Isil E. Celik. I am from Turkey and I live in Japan. I am majored in Philosophy and I am an art curator. I have been conducting PhD research on art management about art practices of marginalized people, lately focusing on sex workers.