Currently, I've been meditating over Free Will, Personal Responsibility, and the Difference between Regret and Remorse. I blame a lot of this on reading the Ender series by Orson Scott Card and my belief that Card has a God Complex. But anyways, I think all of them are connected with each other.
When I was in college, my friend Katie and I would sit and talk about a lot of things. I think she was really the first person to tell me that she never regretted anything that she's ever done. A lot of people I know say that. They don't regret choices that could have been seen as mistakes. This, of course, does make sense. If you think about your choices too much you fall back into a world of "what if's." Such as "What if I hadn't gone to this college?" or "What if I hadn't pissed off my friend?" or "What if I hadn't drank that whole bottle of Jack Daniel's last night?" you get the idea.
I used to be upset when people said they never regretted any thing they've done. For me, if felt like a coverup. What they really meant is that they did regret it, but they weren't going to tell you because it would hurt your feelings. I mean, how can we learn from our mistakes if we don't regret them? I don't dwelling on them, but looking back and saying "you know, maybe poking the badger with a spoon wasn't a good idea. I mean, I kind of miss the fingers on my right hand."
But then I realized that I was using the wrong word. I didn't mean Regret, I meant Remorse. Regret means to feel sorry or distressed about something, or to remember something with a feeling of loss. It makes sense not to regret a lot of the things we do, not many of our choices result in the loss of something. A lot of the so called "bad" choices in our lives end up creating something, not destroying something. Remorse, however, means to feel moral anguish from misdeeds. Perhaps by your actions you've caused someone deep pain, which gave you in turn pain. Or you did something that challeneged what you thought were morals. I think if you asked people, they would say that they do feel remorse for some of their actions.
But maybe they won't tell you that. To admit to feeling regret or remorse would mean that we were wrong in our choices, and that would mean taking *gasp* responsibility for what we did. We don't like to think of ourselves as flawed. We know that we are, we know that we make mistakes, but deep down we don't want to admit to it. We want to be Gods, we want to be right. By not feeling remorse or regret for our actions we tell ourselves that the choice we made was right, and that's okay.
Maybe we're all a bunch of hedonists. I bet we are.
A coworker today was wearing a shirt that said "God gave us free will, let's use it to party!" And we do use our free will to party, and party hardcore. All of this we say is a choice, all of this is us expressing what God has given to us. We make our choices, we do things that hurt others and we say we don't feel bad, that if we could go back we'd do it the same way.
Well, maybe I care too much. Normally I try to think about how my actions are going to affect others. This is hard though, because you don't always know how others will react. But if you punch someone, the other person is either going to be hurt or hurt you back. This is why I prefer much more subtle ways of hurting people (if you do things subtly, they don't know how to strike back. It's a beautiful and horrible tactic. And I'm damn good at it).
Now, if you spend all your time thinking about how what you do affects everybody else (which is does, eventually) do you really live for yourself? Or are you just living for other people? There is a balance in here, and that is letting yourself feel remorse for things you've done, but letting yourself do the things that you know you want to.
Of course, I don't this quite applies to homicidal maniacs. Do they feel remorse? is their killing to silence the bitter voices in their heads screaming at them? Naaa.
So yeah, we have a responsibility to others as much as we have a responsibility to ourselves. Perhaps feeling remorse is taking the responsibility and saying that we are not gods, and sometimes people get hurt by our actions. I'm not saying that you should lock yourself up in your room and cry because you ate the last piece of german chocolate sour cherry cake, but maybe you'll think twice about doing it again.
Of course, this is all is coming from the girl who at times has felt no remorse or regret for doing things that she knows has hurt other people. But then, I'm a psychotic female.
And a hedonist.