said and done.
At one point, people who live reckless lives without harboring regret bothered. Perhaps it is partially as I have always possessed a high level of awareness to the affect of my actions on others, or on the future; I cannot help but cringe at words said in jest that I know cut deeper to the person then they let on, or else erode away a piece of that joy they find in the moment – but to live completely without regrets after being so reckless? Perhaps it is only my own self-righteousness bubbling to the surface. If I have done right and regret things I have said and done, then how can someone do wrong and be without regrets? But the truth is not in the declaration, but what it means.
A regret is remorse held over a past action. When a reckless life it is often tied to consequences, or getting caught. People don’t seem to regret sin until they have to pay the price for what they have done wrong – which means, a majority are safe living recklessly as they are in environments that do not harbor consequences, nor do people stay around in our lives long enough for our choices to affect them, as a rule. The only consistent relationships are those who are largely unaffected by most of our actions – our family, old friends. What is there is regret if we are never found guilty? If we never have to pay any price for any action? To say “I have no regrets” is to say nobody was hurt by my actions, or better I really don’t care if they were.
But this isn’t really regret.
When the reality of our life is torn away all regret becomes premature; it is only focused on us. The dire straights of consequences is that we believe they are punitive that come against us now, as being grounded, or maybe breaking a bone. if we hurt no one now we believe our actions ought to be tolerated, or even permitted, and we think ourselves to be right. We are short sighted enough that this is sufficient, until we begin to peel away our lives in the rest of the world. Consequences do not always fall like wrath on our heads, but what on the heads of others and what if they do not fall now?
To not have regret is to never take a stand on anything important, never lose anything of value, never to love anyone else with any integrity. When we love, we must esteem the other better than ourselves. The deepest sense of regret not having regret, but rather the quiet moments longing of the heart – this is when we judge ourselves against a standard we do not know and realize we are not sufficient. This same feeling, this fear, is what drives us into madness beyond the pace of nature to always hide and demand exposure, to crave justice and fear accountability. But even these are not trials and is only a half-hearted swing at regret.
Right now, there are nations of people dying. The average age of Uganda is 14, which has made it a nation of children. What have we done about it? Something? Nothing? The atheist asks: “how can a good God allow such evil?” yet whether you believe in theism or not, you are faced with the same problem. God could snap is fingers and end everything, but to the little girl dying in the slums, you could do that same thing and yet… do you? This is the catalyst of regret: a choice. You can do nothing and live as you have, but you cannot walk away and say you never knew.
Avoiding sin makes us self-righteous when we believe avoiding wrong makes us better, but that is only because we are so short sighted to the pieces in motion. Saving all the children and all the animals in order to escape consequences will never bring that relief if these things are done to escape the feeling of responsibility – in fact, running into the fires to save others ought make us more accountable to them, and yet running away leave us feeling somewhat condemned: either to say people do not matter to me or else I am number one. To think we will escape the heart by our own actions is only to say we must never be honest with our motives: retreat to the fourth paragraph.
At the end of the day, when all is said and done, our lives are not governed by where we were and were not caught in the moment, but what we do with the time we have been given: the right now. This is a lesson from my own book.
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley