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  • Writer's pictureR.J Dyson

Guilt Kills Art

Let me rephrase that. Toxic guilt kills our best art.


And there are different kinds or sources of guilt. Generally:


Internal guilt from offenses we’ve committed, like stealing that pack of gum or ruining trusting relationships, is normal and healthy.


External guilt heaped on us from others for offenses we’ve not perpetrated, like 50% of sibling interactions or generational guilt for past transgressions, these are also normal, but unhealthy.


The first guilt is good and true. It propels us toward healing. When we acknowledge our guilt, humble ourselves, redeem the wounds and release it - we grow, mature and unite. Our art takes on an earnest and free air. Our minds and emotions sharpen in color and lyric. Our message gains confidence and clarity. In other words, grace and truth abound with explosive creativity in healthy community.


Toxic guilt, on the other hand, is nothing more than a ball and chain around our creative impetus. A cage around our faith and reason. Through knowledge, release and replacement with truth, we can grow. After all, we’re not designed to carry the guilt of another for the long haul. We can’t, not rationally, not biologically, not spiritually. And not creatively. Community is choked off with this poison.


Don't get me wrong, struggle is good. And the struggle for a healthy resolution to guilt? Vital. From Frederick Douglass, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress," to Gad Saad, "My victimology card trumps yours!" two astute and direct cultural critics and movers who challenge us to accept that the struggle for a life sourced in truth and without hypocrisy is also the creative’s journey. A struggle to deal with guilt honestly and then create with all earnestness.


Q. How are you letting guilt define, shape or kill your creative journey?


Q. What guilt are you currently entertaining that’s killing your creative output, your art, your divine being, your community?


Q. What guilt do you need to learn from, redeem and release in order to build others up?


Oh, and on a side note: Healthy guilt learns from the art, stories and histories of different others; the good, the bad and the ugly. Toxic guilt topples, burns and attempts to disappear the art and the artists who dissent. Who do you want to be?

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