Feelings, good or bad, make us what we are, make us human.
That said, I strongly disagree with those who insist that members of the animal kingdom do not have any feelings. They do, as anyone who has truly observed cats, dogs, horses, elephants and other “creatures” can testify. Not to mention ocean mammals who have a strong social order. Laugh me to scorn if you will but they are not just responding/reacting to some dumb instinct.
But as regarding humans, too often we are told that only good feelings are acceptable in our personality, in the persona we present to the world. We should not have bad feelings towards unjust situations or other people because we are only hurting ourselves. The person or people we dislike, or are hurt by, or even hate, don’t give a hoot about it: Most of the time they are not even aware they have done something bad to make us suffer. (That is what “they” say and often, it is so very true.) And if the perpetrator does become aware of what they have done, they are gleeful that they have inflicted hurt and go on their way rejoicing: Yay, I stuck it to them! Aren’t I the smartest duck ever?! Guilt trip about it? Not a chance! Dumbest duck ever? For sure.
And as for injustice? Personally, I’ll keep fighting that even though some things will never change in this mortal life. Perhaps it is because I have been a victim myself, and so cannot stand to see other people or animals abused, ripped off, cheated, bullied, whatever. I never could stand to watch it, even as a young child. Perhaps it is something I was born with.
Am I Going to Hell for What I Did?
The problem with the joy of those who relish inflicting hurt is that their joy is short-lived. Sooner or later, any mean, spiteful things that anyone has done, literally come back to haunt them. They wake screaming in the night, sobbing, wracked with guilt. What have I done? Why did I ruin the lives of all those people? How can I fix things? What if I can’t fix anything? Am I going to Hell for doing something so bad?
The existence of a literal place named Hell is a question for theological debate, as some deep thinkers believe in it and some don’t, depending on their religious beliefs and scholarly studies. Some believe Outer Darkness, the complete spiritual separation from God, is a far greater punishment than a Hell of fire and brimstone could ever be. You can’t take a stance “for” or “against” Hell, if you haven’t read your scriptures and other great books, and studied it out in your own mind. There is no simply “taking someone else’s word for it”. That’s a temporary cop-out and is called following blindly.
That doesn’t mean a person won’t live in a hell on earth for the dumb and/or spiteful things they’ve done. We are all capable of repenting and turning away from wrong behavior but there is no escaping the consequences. Those just have to be worked through.
- Sometimes our hell on earth is due to the wrong choices other people have made. All we can do is plow ahead and hope to get to the far side of it, bruised, bloodied and battered both mentally and emotionally, and too often, physically and financially as well. We can and should forgive those people eventually but again, they will not escape all of the consequences of what they have done, whether the Law on Earth catches up with them or not. The Atonement of Christ paid for and provided forgiveness for all but a few grievous sins by everyone but consequences will stare us in the face throughout our mortal lives and beyond: a life we snuffed out without just cause; an illegitimate child for whom we must pay child support; an innocent we violated; any living creature we tortured.
- There are many bad feelings we as humans wrestle with, sometimes daily. The worst of all is the sense of betrayal. It is greater than anger, stronger than hatred, more poignant than disappointment or abandonment, even grief. And if you don’t think so, may I suggest you haven’t yet been betrayed in any meaningful way. When you get hit by it, you’ll understand exactly what it is. It is more than having the rug pulled out from under you, painful though that is. It is the most hurtful and destructive of all emotions: I trusted you and this is what you did to me.
And the Good Feelings?
So what about the good feelings that make us human? Do we allow them into our lives or do we spend our days sulking and increasing our bitterness toward the world in general? When we have been deeply hurt, healing takes time and wounds don’t always close as fast as we would like. Yet if we are not moving forward, we are sliding backwards.
- Some good feelings need to be tempered with a smidgen of humility, of course. We should always have self-respect for the talents we have been given or have developed. Yet few people care if we are the champion pizza dough spinner of the valley, except our mother, and if we’re fortunate, a few other family members and good friends. Mostly what they care about is: Are we kind, generous, honest people who stand up for what is right?
- Having faith is a good feeling. That means we have hope for the future. It’s an act of faith to believe the sun will come up tomorrow and the trash trucks will be there at 6:00 a.m., so we make our plans for the day and maybe the week. We cannot know beyond that what might happen but we pencil in items on the calendar and keep to as many of them as we can, in spite of the world’s plans for our time.
- We all have dreams, some of them going back to childhood. And in too many cases, life circumstances or other people dashed those dreams to pieces along the way. But picking up those pieces and doing something good with them turns dreams into goals. And we can still achieve. That is a great feeling!
- Being optimistic instead of cynical is a good feeling to nurture, as often as we can. We are watching our wonderful country disintegrate. Yet there is still room for optimism if enough good people care what is happening, if they care enough to do something positive and not let Evil win by default.
Feelings, good and bad, make us what we are, make us human.