It is no secret that Catholics have a wee bit of a guilt issue. Outside of our Jewish brethren I’d say we, as a culture, corner the market on it.
I think we come by it honestly though. Back in high school I once wrote an essay about how Jesus was the first to effectively use guilt as a bargaining tool. Jesus was Jewish which meant he had a Jewish mother. Perfect or not, that’s gonna rub off. Think about it though- Peter has denied him not once, not twice, but three times while he was getting his ass handed to him by the Romans.
Fast forward a couple hours and there’s Peter standing there and Jesus says, “oh hey, remember that time your lame ass denied knowing me? Yea, that time? Go build my church. You heard me. Oh and my mom’s moving in with you. Jesus, out.”
It’s like the guilt version of original sin. Thanks to Peter, all the members of his church are now saddled with this unshakable feeling as if we’ve done wrong, haven’t done enough, did too much… you get the idea.
(If this was not the most sacrilegious thing you’ve read today- call me, we need to be friends)
You can only imagine how well this idea was received. I remember passing the exam (it was the essay portion of a midterm or something) because I had clearly and precisely made my point but there was a trip to the advisor involved.
Anyways, for 32 years I’ve had this guilt as an omnipresent part of life. Some days are worse than others.
Case in point: NPR.
I listen to a lot of public radio. Mainly because I like classical music and there isn’t a classical station here in southwest Georgia so NPR fills that void. They recently had their fundraising drive and I was listening one day when they were talking about it.
sidenote: I love how they call it a membership drive instead of a fundraising drive. Apparently they think people will give more to become “members” instead of just throwing money at it.
This one afternoon there was what I’m going to call a commercial but only because I can’t think of anyway else to describe it. It wasn’t the host of the program talking but rather a prerecorded “commercial” in which this guy was talking about how only 9 out of 10 listeners of public radio actually donate.
He went on to describe how he called the telephone company his office uses and asked them if they could possibly give them ten accounts/numbers but only charge for one. Not surprisingly, the company said no. The guy then went on to say how amazing it is that public radio offers this service and doesn’t require a payment and how they wouldn’t have to be asking for money if all companies operated as they did.
This commercial was at least four or five minutes long and kept reiterating how amazing it is that they offer the service for free and right at the end he decided to go down the “why don’t you just pay us what you think it is worth” road.
I can not tell you how many hours I have spent thinking about this commercial. I don’t really hesitate to say that not a day has gone by since I heard it that I haven’t thought of it. All I keep hearing in my head, over and over again, is “why don’t you pay what you think it is worth?” And this didn’t happen a couple of days ago, oh no, it’s been at least two, if not three weeks!
I didn’t donate because it’s been rather crazy around here lately but I think we all know I will. If for nothing else than to assuage my overwhelming guilt at enjoying something I have paid nothing for.
Well played NPR, well played.