6/17 (五) 思,英語討論會 12: Guilt

Discussion Question: Why is guilt such a common emotion in our society?

Questions to Think About:
1. What is guilt?
2. What is guilt for?

3. What do our parents/teachers use guilt for?
4. Do religions make use of guilt?
5. If so, which ones?
6. Do they use it in the same way?

7. Is guilt used to motivate people?
8. Is it an effective motivator?
9. What is it usually used to motivate people to do?

10. Here’s a story:
So, there are two men in a hospital room. One guy has to lie down most of the time, but has to sit up for an hour every day to have his lungs drained. The other guy has to lie flat on his back the whole day. He’s not allowed to move because of a back injury that has to heal. Of course the two men begin talking because there’s very little else for them to do. They talk about their lives, their feelings, what brought them to the hospital. They become good friends. The guy who has to have his lungs drained once a day is by the window. When he sits up, he tells stories about everything he sees outside, there’s a big park and a view of the shining city behind. He tells about the lovers sitting by the pond, the families playing on the grass, the colors of the flowers and the sky. Soon this becomes the favorite time of day for both of them.
One day, as the man who’s having his lungs drained is describing this fabulous parade going by, the man who can only lie flat in bed experiences a new feeling: resentment. He resents that his friend can see all this neat stuff and he can only lie there and imagine it. He’s grateful to his friend, too, but day after day this resentment grows, he can’t get rid of it.
Can you guess where this is going? Okay, so one night then, he wakes up to hear his friend coughing, a really bad wet sound. He lays there listening to his friend grope for the call button but not reach it. He could easily press his own, but he doesn’t. The coughing gets weaker and weaker, till there’s silence. When a nurse comes to check on them, his friend is dead. The nurse’s sadness shows in her face. A few days later he asks to be moved to the window. He struggles up to look out and finds out: the window faces a blank wall.

11. What’s the moral of this story?
12. What’s the purpose of this story?
13. Does the story serve the purpose intended?

14. Why does the story have to go like that?

15. Here’s a different ending to the same story:
One day, as the man who’s having his lungs drained is describing this fabulous parade going by, the man who can only lie flat in bed experiences a new feeling: resentment. He resents that his friend can see all this neat stuff and he can only lie there and imagine it. He’s grateful to his friend, too, but day after day this resentment grows, he can’t get rid of it.
Eventually, the man by the window got better, and he was discharged from the hospital. The man by the door had mixed feelings, on the one hand he would miss his friend, and on the other, he would finally get to be by the window! He asked the nurses for a transfer. When he got there, he struggled to a sitting position and looked out. The view from the window was a blank wall.
Through the nurses, the man found the phone number of his friend, and called to tell him everything, his joy, his jealousy, his discovery. His friend wept and laughed with him, and then promised to visit or call as often as he could, to tell him stories about what he ‘saw’ in the window.

16. What’s the moral of the story with this ending, is it different? the same?
17. What’s the purpose of this story?

18. Which story do you like better?
19. Which story is more effective for the purpose intended?

20. Can guilt be used as a weapon?

21. Does guilt bring people closer together?
22. Does guilt reinforce or weaken relationships?
23. Does guilt reinforce or weaken social ties?
24. Does guilt reinforce or weaken family ties?

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