Dirty Hands at U of M
A recent U-M study which had participants lie during phone calls and in e-mails come out with interesting results. Those participants who lied over the phone wanted to wash their mouths with mouthwash compared to others who lied in an e-mail wanted to clean their hands with hand sanitizer. Well others who did not lie found little need to cleanse their bodies.
This experiment relates back to the idea presented by Walzer; more specifically, it is more support for the Catholic Model of dirty hands. Walzer explains that one has the ability to atone for his or her sins, or the act that made ones hands dirty, in some sort of manner. However, can one really simply wash away guilt? Is it really possible to send a nasty email to someone and tell lies and then use some mouthwash and make it seem like the words were never written or spoken? According to the Catholic model this is true.
If it were always as simple as using some hand sanitizer or mouthwash to literally wash away ones sins, I would think that sin even though it is already commonplace, would be seen as acceptable. Also, the products to rid oneself of dirt only apply to hands and mouths since they are the most common parts of the body that complete the sins, but what happens if one commits a sin through the use of another body part? For example, if a ruler steps on the feet of the lower class, what does he do to cleanse himself?
Personally, I think that dirty hands can actually account for any type of trouble one gets himself or herself into. For example, if I give someone a nasty look that offends them. I may feel guilty for being rude with my facial expression, but my hands are still dirty as a matter of expression.
From the Protestant view, since one cannot repent for his or her sins, the experiment really holds no value. Since from this view once a person is a sinner he is always a sinner; the guilt cannot be washed away.
Like Lady Macbeth who yells for a spot to be removed from her hand to free her from the sins she has committed, the recent study shows that people find relief in washing away the “dirt” that has accumulated from guilt; it reinforces the idea that “metaphorical links are between abstract and concrete domains of life (U-M Study).”
The most important point that the U-M study shows is that dirty hands are everywhere. Rulers in history have dealt with the dilemma of dirty hands and rulers and common people still deal with the issue today.