At what point does being consistently and disastrously wrong about so many important issues weigh on an individual’s conscience? From Thomas Harrington at brownstone.org:
This, of course, stays between us” he said to his young coworker as they went their separate ways in the hotel parking lot. She, who was already feeling a bit queasy about what had transpired—it had not gone as she had hoped—quickly nodded her head as she clicked the fob to open the door of her car.
Yes, she would keep it quiet. It was definitely better that way for him, but just as much, she thought, for herself as she had done what she had said she would never do: sleep with a more senior co-worker.
She briefly rehearsed conjuring a new story about how it had come to pass, one that suggested he had forced it all upon her. But she knew it wasn’t true. She had always been an independent woman, nobody’s fool. And pretty honest with herself as well. In remembering and acknowledging her own agency in the process leading to the encounter she said to herself, “Yes, it’s definitely best that every hint of what occurred never go beyond this place and this moment.”
And thus was born a Pact of Silence, one of millions established each day across the world.
Shame is an incredibly powerful emotion, one that when imposed by parents or certain authority figures in very, very limited doses in the process of a child’s trajectory toward adulthood—which is to say, the process through which he or she begins to generate an autonomous sense of morality—can serve a certain educational purpose.
And once its lessons have been internalized in the adult, it can serve as a brake upon the well-known human tendency to get carried away and do stupid and regrettable things.