The attempt to justify error is a vain quest, a philosophical dead end, an exercise in self-deception. But why do so many people try to do it then? Why do people attempt to make the claim “A decision I made which caused pain and suffering to myself and others was really right and/or reasonable?”
People would rather not admit that they couldn’t keep from scratching the itches of the animal soul. People would like to believe they’re more than animals, even if they sometimes act like one. People would rather not confront what Carl Jung called the “shadow.”
People wish to anesthetize themselves from the pain their mistakes have caused themselves and others. While there may have been some value obtained from the poor choice, an effort is being made to assert the non-existence of the suffering involved, or to minimize the heartache. In any case, the effort to redact one’s experience is a project of dishonesty, a construction of a false self which is apart from life.
Some people might say, “Well, I learned something from my errors that I might not have learned any other way.” I pondered on this for a while. In the story of the Prodigal Son, there was a wise, obedient son who learned of his father’s goodness without having to go through the tribulations of his foolish brother. Could that be the reason the older brother was in the story? To show that it’s possible to learn some other way than the hard way?
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