Listening to some music lately, I was struck by the sadness that permeated throughout a song. The sort of blind expectation the song’s protagonist experienced of “do as I say and not as I do,” while also being condemned for his behavior.

At one point, there is a sense of push-back from him, standing up for himself in spite of it all, and even becoming a tad bit rebellious. Somehow the other option of developing into a sort of doormat, seems the poorer outcome.

Shame is a destructive force in people’s lives. It causes them to doubt themselves and feel badly about who they are. One of the saddest aspects of it, is that is instilled by other human beings, and becomes lodged in the innards. And it is very hard to dislodge.

“Shame. Shame. Shame.”
“Shame on you.”
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself!”
“Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me. ”
“What a shame!”

Some people confuse guilt and shame. Guilt can be a healthy feeling that steers people into right action. It is an internal cue that something is amiss and should be redirected or rectified. Shame is a dark, seething, molding emotion. It lurks in the darkness and festers.

The song Straight to Hell by Drivin’ N Cryin” illustrates this point quite well as was referenced in the opening. Not only does Kevn Kinney sing about shame, but he details the judgement and condesension the song’s protagonist feels from his mother and community, as she is engaging in pretty problematic behaviors herself.

I grew up just west of the tracks
holding me to hold me back.
around your door she’s calling out my name.
she said, “Son won’t you go outside,
I’ve got a man coming over tonight.”
The seventh one in seven days.

So I walk down to the parking lot
hang around all my friends
we roam the streets til dawn breaks again
I come in at 5 am and she is waiting for me
she said where have you been
I said I was out
she said you’re no good ’cause you’re running without love.

I’m going straight to hell
just like my momma said.
I’m going straight to hell.

A black widow and a lady’s man
meet down at the laundry mat
they try to make me understand
the neighbors were all in a stir
about what they might have heard . . . .

So, yes, I guess he is going straight to hell. The hell he will live with each day because of the negative emotions directed at him by the one who is supposed to love him the most. And the abandonment he experiences from his mother as she is engaging in her own unhealthy behaviors. What a shame for everyone.