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Guilt and Learning



Diary, Wednesday 3rd December 1997:

Do I have a reason or an obligation to feel guilty about what my ancestors or indeed the culture I come from did in the name of profit? Guilt is surely the wrong word. Sadness would be the right one. I can take no joy in the memory of the slave trade. But, however atrociously they behaved, I feel I have no duty to carry the guilt of my mother or father. It is true that their behaviour has affected me in some way, determines me in some way. That fact alone is enough to awaken a sense of responsibility, a need to respond adequately, but how should I respond?  I do not feel I need to carry the load of slavery on my conscience in so far I do not participate in it personally. I need to be careful however, as my participation in slavery in some way is more than likely. After all I take part in our global economy where slavery is rife. For that I am responsible in the sense that I must respond adequately to get it to stop. As to the wrongs of my forebears, my responsibility and my duty is surely not to feel the guilt that is theirs but to learn from their rather sad ways.




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