Chris Milazzo | Thursday, October 14, 2010
Its always been my dream to be the target of a Viewpoint attack, but I never thought my Scholastic essay “On Guilt” would be the reason.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Zorb’s critique of my essay (“The rationality of dining hall guilt,” Oct. 13); however, I feel she might be –– to paraphrase myself –– irrationally bothered by my suggestion that we should not feel guilty about waste in the dining hall.
First, I would hope she realized that absolving students from their waste was not the point of my article. That example was about two short paragraphs of a page essay; it was not meant to be a study of waste and its harmful effects. Ms. Zorb should notice the title is not “On Waste and how it affects African children.”
Second, there is a difference between feeling guilty and realizing that waste could have harmful effects on others. In my opinion, one does not need to feel guilty to realize that waste can be harmful, and that one should alter their behavior to minimize these effects. Much like my Catholic elementary school teachers, Ms. Zorb sees guilt as a motivator; however, I do not see that connection. If guilt motivates you to do the right thing, Ms. Zorb, I encourage you to keep feeling guilty. I, however, do not need guilt to know that I should limit my waste.
Perhaps my example was poor and, obviously, no one should waste food just for the sake of wasting it. At a school grounded in Christian thought, one does not do the right thing because he or she feels guilty; one does it because it is right. Guilt has nothing to do with it.
Furthermore, I would caution her from making sweeping statements such as “Resources like gasoline, whose carbon emissions are contributing to global climate change, which is having the largest negative effects where? … Africa” without citing any research. I will not say she is wrong because I do not know enough about the subject, but as any professor would tell you, “cite your sources.”
To answer her final question: No, I do not feel guilty yet. Guilt would imply that I did something wrong, and I am not sure that is what I did in my essay. I am saddened, however, that someone would read my essay and boil it down to one example for the sake of airing poorly developed ideas about guilt, waste, and climate change. That is something to feel guilty about.
I encourage everyone to read my article, and see if Ms. Zorb is justified in her attack.