Mea Maxima Culpa

Arshid Malik

Mea Culpa is a Latin phrase that translates into “my own fault”. There is a history of forgiveness and apology attached to this very simple term and it often comes with religious connotations, even though generally the religious character has waned with the common acceptance of this phrase into day to day verbiage. My interest in the term generates from the near absence of the fundamental and operational characteristics of this phrase in our general everyday culture, in Kashmir I mean.
Even though the exact importance and thereof practical inclination of the phrase Mea Culpa is often met with the criticism that accepting one’s fault does not in any way alter what has been done but it exercises definitive leverage on the way things turn out to be in the future following the event that may generate the need for an apology are exemplary. Thus, even though for the sake of criticism the social benedictions of Mea Culpa may perhaps be ignored but its role in eliciting comfort in otherwise awkward and hurtful situations lends it a credence that has been noted down in history. Mea Culpa is the unique art of forgiveness, to be precise and finds synonymous characteristics in almost every genuine culture of the world. I would like to press the point once again that even though the philosophy behind Mea Culpa has a lot of religious relevance with regard to the Roman Church, but it has been accepted as a socio-literary phrase in the recent decades.
Now when we talk of Kashmir, in all its social and extra social moorages, we find that the very context and colour of the concept of Mea Culpa is missing. There is hardly anyone apologizing to you anymore and even though the yesteryears may bespeak a different tale what concerns me here is the now and what of the situation. Why is that we do not a) subscribe to the idea of Mea Culpa and b) what has the absence of the general ideation of Mea Culpa led to? I notably do not understand why we, the people of Kashmir, do not anymore attach any meaning to the “my own fault” theory except the fact that we simply do not care to “take it on ourselves” in order to remedy the situation(s) and ease the discomfort because of a typical, habitual and cultivated indolence of ours. What has come to replace the ideology of Mea Culpa in Kashmir finds consonance in another, lesser known Latin phrase Mea Innocentia which translates into English as “my innocence”. We generally indulge in the idea of Mea Innocentia without even feeling sorry for ourselves. You would recall numerous instances where the idea of Mea Culpa would have been replaced by Mea Innocentia with extreme ease. Yes, it is true. We are artistic when it comes to excusing ourselves out of sensitive situations in a ludicrous manner. Or you may find “I am not to blame” more appropriate here.   
Whatever has happened is to be blamed on the proverbial “stars” as a rule of thumb down here and that takes the essence out of life here. We never accept our own mistakes and never understand the value that comes with accepting one’s faults. We are a Mea Innocentia kind of a people but we need to row our way to the other, more benefitting and befitting Mea Culpa and I tell you, we would manage to live happier lives that way. And perhaps rather we should add an antonym to it and live by the philosophy of Mea Maxima Culpa, meaning “my most (grievous) fault”.  


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