Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Is Confession Good for the Soul?

In this age of blogs, blooks, and what appears to be instant online notoriety, what purpose does a public confession serve? My Granny, may she rest in peace, would say to us, "If you ever get into trouble, do it by yourself, there'll be no one to tell on you." Barring a guilty conscious or hidden cameras, a person could get away with a few things.

If no harm befalls the receiver of said confession, is it wise to reveal? There are bound to be consequences if the information was intentionally withheld: a cheating spouse, a truant child, a lingering medical condition. In each scenario, someone's life may be altered either way.

I discover that a friend is cheating on her spouse, yet remain silent because her intimate life is no concern of mine. I could live without consequence, perhaps until her husband deduces that she's having an extramarital affair and takes upon himself to rectify the situation. How does it end? Will he tail her to the secret rendezvous and wait until they're disrobed, storm in, and beat the guy to a pulp? I'm not my friend's keeper, however, I might feel a tinge of guilt because the situation could've been avoided. My friend's husband is tried and sentenced to prison because of her inability to communicate that they were disconnected, and I sit, head in hands in the back of the courtroom, wondering.

What do I do if I see my youngest brother skipping school during my lunch break from work, as I pull away from the drive-through at the fast food restaurant? Do I pretend not to know him, fearing he'd be more embarrassed by his disapproving oldest brother calling him to task, and do my best to forget? Of course I couldn't forget. But do I call our parents and rat him out, or hope it was first and last time and remain quiet? Fast-forward a few weeks, and he's no longer skipping school, but has started doing things a fifteen year-old should not. He's bowed to peer pressure and started shoplifting to prove he's cool even though he attends class daily. The dreaded phone call. One of the ruffians has implicated him in their string of robberies, and mom calls me, perplexed, tearful: "Where did I go wrong with this child?" Is it my fault that I didn't tell our parents I saw him framed through my windshield in the strip mall parking lot?

I walk in on a relative taking prescription medicine, and think nothing of it until she realizes I'm standing in the kitchen with her and reacts poorly. She swears me to secrecy, stating that it's something simple she can handle, and not to involve any other family members. I'm concerned because of the hereditary illnesses that plague us. Do I take it upon myself to monitor her condition, or trust that she's telling me truth, and leave it to her own devices? In this scenario, my cousin will soon graduate from college, and her energy is split between a fulltime job and evening classes.


African American family populating five rows of folded chairs in large auditorium. In what should be a joyous celebration, none of the assembled appear to be of good cheer. Most wear a somber expression, while others are tearful.

What do you think happened? What would you have done differently?


Laquita said...

Interesting post. Growing up I would always tell (tattle) on my younger brother. It got to a point when he would do something - that he was not suppose to do - and start to do it by saying "I know you're going to tell mom." I would even let friends know to not let me see or hear anything because I would surely tell.

But as I got older I figured my brother knew right from wrong and my mother always had a way of finding out things without my help :o)

Anyway, I think - using your scenario - if I saw him hanging out instead of being at work - I wouldn't have called him out in front of his comrades - but would most likely call him later and let him know I spotted him.

Concerning friends/assosiates I would also let them know that I have seen/heard what they were doing as well.

I think and would hope the fact that they would know that I saw them or knew what they were doing would make them at least think twice before they did it again - or maybe they would be nagged by the thought that I could tell and this would make them stop altogether.

Or, I could just be living in my own fantasy world :o)

Los Angelista said...

I constantly obsess over the "what ifs" in the world. It's like those Choose Your Own Adventure books from back in the day. Remember those?

If you do tell the husband that his wife is cheating, he may punch you for telling him and then go kill his wife or...tell you he knows and he's also got a little something something on the side because they're swingers.

Either way you go, something's gonna happen. I suppose it just depends on what you want to have on your conscience.