What’s the difference between Shame and Embarrasment? Are they joined at the hip? Like twins?
Shame appears stronger. More long-lasting. Imprinted. While the other can be short-lived, light, even funny.
I believe they stem from the same set of circumstances, one that can create an incentive to change something. Some practice, or habit, or way of doing and responding to a situation. If I can overcome either feeling, I can re-adjust myself, make a necessary correction to be more aligned with what is “better,” and I put that word in quotes, because it may mean different things to different folks.
How about making a correction that can make one more “God-like?”
Now, I really got your attention! And, I’m not embarassed. Or ashamed to have used that word. Would you have preferred I use “Creator?”
After focusing on the topic of “Shame,” I seemed to recall a comment made by a wise and wonderful woman. (Aren’t most of you — wise and wonderful women, that is? The female side, the more gentle one!) She goes by many names, one of which is Ordinary Sparrow, and she offered advice during one of those dozen times I goofed in public while speaking my mind. (See my-right-speech-may-have-wronged-you.)
Her comment appears below. It resonates more today, after rereading the sources for her quotes, and the prophetic synchronisity she seemed to have provided in wake of my sojourn into the World of Kabbalah.
Michael, your post reminds me of a great American Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, he often used the concept of embarrassment. I was looking for the quotes and found this by another Rabbi Jeremy Gordon quoting Rabbi Heschel. . .
” The Rabbis teach (Talmud BM 58b) that embarrassment – malbish panim (lit. whitening of the face) is like shedding blood. A huge realm of mussar – Jewish ethical writing — focuses on the terrible hurt inflicted by the embarrassment we cause.
Of course, embarrassment also prompts us to action, indeed it may be the best prompt we have to make our human lives worthy of the gift of our soul. Abraham Joshua Heschel suggests the following:
“How embarrassing for man to be the greatest miracle on earth and not to understand it! How embarrassing for man to live in the shadow of greatness and to ignore it, to be a contemporary of God and not to sense it. Religion depends upon what man does with his ultimate embarrassment, embarrassment not only precedes religious commitment, it is the touchstone of religious existence … What the world needs is a sense of embarrassment. Modern man has the power and the wealth to overcome poverty and disease, but we are guilty of misunderstanding the meaning of existence.”
I think there is courage in embracing embarrassment. . .
Embarrassment – when it focuses our minds on the sufferings of others – is no bad thing. Indeed it might be the only thing that can save this fragile world. We need more of it.