like so many things, shame is a two-sided medal. its negative aspect is well known to everybody. psychologists even talk about introducing a new condition in the dsm called 'shame-based trauma'. everything that we are not guilty of, or that characterizes us but is not negative per se (like being poor, muslim, black, gay, etc.) should not make us ashamed. however, societies frequently target such characteristics as being shameful, and people struggle how to come to terms with what they are on one side, and what the society values on the other. i cannot bear the blame for historical mistakes of my montenegrin people or of my croatian people or of the people of the town of niksic where i reside. a german should not be blamed for the historical tragedy of the holocaust, or a russian for the communist genocide. we should be ashamed only of the things we ourselves have perpetuated or supported. if there is shame, it's a good sign. it can have a cathartic effect. what is shameful is shamelessness.
however, i would like to point out another positive aspect of shame that is not frequently talked about, and that i was reminded of by viktor frankl. it is the so-called protective function of shame. the things within us that are profound, intimate, genuine, are always shielded off by a certain dose of shame. we reluctantly recount to larger audiences in detail how much we love someone, what excites us sexually, what our relationship with god is, etc. those are private things that feel debased if shared with the world. since we own them deep within our private realm, we want to keep them there. whenever people expose their privacy in excess (and some people neurotically do), i cannot but suspect their genuineness. it is only the things that we don't own that we can shamelessly expound on.
being personal is another thing, which i value greatly. it means to show the rest of the humankind that we are persons like everybody else, neither better nor worse, so that they can empathize with us. i am greatly disinclined to unspontaneous, machine-like behaviour i can see so much of here in montenegro. i prefer it much more when personality shows. but private things should remain private, sheltered, silent. as soon as we start talking about them their essence evaporates.
so, don't ask me what i believe in and don't tell me what you believe in. don't ask me how much i love the people i love and don't tell me about your loves. don't ask me what i am like as a person, and let me see for myself what kind of person you are. some things are better left unsaid, and shame helps us keep them to ourselves.