Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one's own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.
A Litany for SurvivalFor those of us who live at the shorelinestanding upon the constant edges of decisioncrucial and alonefor those of us who cannot indulgethe passing dreams of choicewho love in doorways coming and goingin the hours between dawnslooking inward and outwardat once before and afterseeking a now that can breedfutureslike bread in our children's mouthsso their dreams will not reflectthe death of ours:For those of uswho were imprinted with fearlike a faint line in the center of our foreheadslearning to be afraid with our mother's milkfor by this weaponthis illusion of some safety to be foundthe heavy-footed hoped to silence usFor all of usthis instant and this triumphWe were never meant to survive.And when the sun rises we are afraidit might not remainwhen the sun sets we are afraidit might not rise in the morningwhen our stomachs are full we are afraidof indigestionwhen our stomachs are empty we are afraidwe may never eat againwhen we are loved we are afraidlove will vanishwhen we are alone we are afraidlove will never returnand when we speak we are afraidour words will not be heardnor welcomedbut when we are silentwe are still afraidSo it is better to speakrememberingwe were never meant to survive.
If you come as softlyAs wind within the treesYou may hear what I hearSee what sorrow sees.If you come as lightlyAs threading dewI will take you gladlyNor ask more of you.You may sit beside meSilent as a breathOnly those who stay deadShall remember death.And if you come I will be silentNor speak harsh words to you.I will not ask you why, now.Or how, or what you do.We shall sit here, softlyBeneath two different yearsAnd the rich earth between usShall drink our tears.
My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.