Day 36 - The Golden Child

Guilt, not fear, as in Frank Herbert's memorable mantra in 'Dune', is the real mind-killer. You may have heard of or been exposed to the concept of Catholic guilt, Jewish guilt...there are so many types of guilt.

It whispers at the nape of your neck when you feel you did something wrong, or when you think of doing something nasty, even if you don't follow through.

It keeps you up at night and compounds when you don't think you did enough to help someone in need, could be the homeless person you pass by, or a co-worker whose family member just passed away.

It absolutely howls at you when you think you're doing better than someone else, it doesn't need to be as extreme as surviving war, it could be as simple as having a better life than your closest family members, financially or physically.

If you know me, you know where I was taking this...Muslim guilt. Yup! That's also a thing. The rule is, if you make a minor mistake, something that doesn't harm anyone, but is definitely a no-no as per the tenets of the faith, you should feel bad about it, you should make up for it, you should ask for forgiveness, and then go about your merry way, with the caveat that, you've now acknowledged your mistake, don't repeat it. This of course doesn't apply to anything that causes another harm, or what is considered classified as a crime. The jurisprudence can become a rabbit hole so I won't give you any specific examples, so let your imagination run along.

Now that you've been introduced to Muslim guilt, come along with me to my childhood. At the tender age of 10, my mother, 3 siblings and I found ourselves in Toronto, Canada. As the eldest child, I was one no longer, because my younger siblings were 6, 5 and 2 years old, so I ended up skipping adolescence.

You see, there was a barrage of messaging from everyone connected to our family, be it grade school teachers, or family friends, even the local grocer, that I was one very responsible child, to be helping his mother so well! And So the Golden Child was born, never to err, ever faithfully serving, protecting, and being a role model worthy of emulation.

When I said I skipped adolescence, I skipped it hard. No alcohol, no partying, no rebelling. Nothing that would jeopardize my mission to ensure my mom was not overwhelmed by raising the 4 of us alone. I had to do my part, and for the most part I did pretty well. I still have the moniker attached to me.

Everything that sparkles has it's price. Historically, Gold and it's extraction resulted in heavily polluted lands which impacts the surrounding environment, poisoning both flora, fauna and the water table. This continues long after the mine's resources are extracted, for a century at best. Similarly, the impact my Golden Child persona has on me is yet to completely unfold. One of the main lessons I learned, if I were to play the role well, was to know how to lie very well. It's possible that my fascination with observing people, listening to them, and trying to understand their pain had started at a young age, in order to better understand how to hide my own.

It's what keeps the Golden Child a beacon, ironically, one that has disturbed my siblings, causing them unresolved tension, and dismay. It's hard for them to understand that it wasn't me being "Golden", that my primary motivator was an overwhelming sense of guilt, of potential guilt, of future guilt, of my potential mistakes, forever influencing theirs. I was mortified by every interaction they had with my peers, by the things they could possibly see on television, and so I did the one thing I continue to regret to this day. I pushed my siblings away, in my effort to protect them, I kept them away from my friends to shield them from their language, their thoughts, their ideas. That meant tersely informing them they needed to go play elsewhere, or to go home while I was staying past sunset with my friends. It was easier then, there were only two vices, television, and my foul mouthed inconsiderate-of-my-duties friends. It's a wound that is still on the mend.

They call me the Golden Child, not as a sign of respect, but as a small rebellion, because their adolescence, their little rebellions were unwelcome, and unfortunately misunderstood as evidence of a failure to parent.

Like the revitalized Gold industry stepping away from it's use of Cyanide and Mercury and turning to environmentally friendly techniques to sustain itself. I'm slowly allowing everyone to see that the Golden Child, was really Gold plated, and that it's time for it to be removed from the mantle.

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