I think Pam and the boys would agree that I usually talk the least of any member of our family BUT I make up for it by having my rants. There are a few subjects that I just go ballistic over and kick into rant mode concerning. Free will and determinism for example. If you want to see me go off into a rant just bring up the song “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga and I will go into a rant of epic proportions on determinism and free will. Anyhow I am not sure if this is a regular one of my rants or not (Pam and the boys can surely tell you if it is) but it drives me crazy when people say “I have no regrets.” So let the rant begin.
The phrase drives me nuts because it sounds noble but the reality is that if a person has no regrets they are either a sociopath or have an incredibly short memory. It is the type of phrase that actors in movies shout when they are falling off a cliff but any idiot knows they should regret not standing further away from the cliff in the first place.
Here’s what I mean. There are things in my life that I have done or not done that I SHOULD regret. In fact, I would go so far as to say that to not regret them would be an evil act in and of itself. I know some will say “but those actions for good or for bad made you who you are and you don’t regret that do you?” No I don’t. I realize that the good and the bad that I have done are a part of what has shaped me. I learned from those mistakes but I could have just as easily have learned those lessons without the mistakes. I regret that I didn’t learn the lesson through a better means and I regret the act itself. The only way I could not regret those acts is if I am so self-centered that I am basically a sociopath and therefore have no feelings for what I have done to others OR I have such an incredibly short memory that I forget the evil I have done pretty quickly after doing it.
Here’s an example. I remember being in Chris Moore’s backyard when I was a teen and having one of his little brothers run by us. I had an impulse to trip this little 6 year old kid just for my own amusement and I did. I did it just because I was bigger than him and I could. The poor kid fell down, skinned his knee, became embarrassed, and started to cry. It was brutish and cruel of me. I doubt Chris remembers the act but I still do to this day and all these years later I still regret it. I learned from it that I need to protect those weaker than me rather than taking advantage of my power of them for my own entertainment. I still think to myself every now and then “am I tripping this person or helping them?” That lesson has severed me well and I am thankful for it but to not regret the act itself would be wrong. I wish I had learned that lesson without tripping Chris’s brother. I know I could have learned that lesson without tripping him.
In my life I have hurt people that I love and to not regret that, no matter how wonderful the lesson was, would be wrong. I have sometimes ignored opportunities to do good and to not regret that would callous. My regrets don’t hold me back and keep me mired in despair. Instead the lessons I have learned from my regrets help me to be a better follower of Christ, husband, father, son, brother, friend, and person but I usually could have and should have learned those lessons without hurting others or myself.
There is nothing noble about saying you have no regrets. In fact that phrase is ignoble. So go be noble.