Thursday, April 2, 2020

Proving Me Correct Dept.

     If you’re a Christian, or are (at least) aware of the teachings of the Christian faith, you know what importance we place on the virtue of charity. Christ’s command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” isn’t about warm, gooey feelings; it’s about coming to his defense or assistance should he need and deserve it. You know, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” were your situations reversed. Simple stuff, easily comprehended if sometimes challenging to act on.

     The Christian command to be charitable is why Christian churches invariably operate or are associated with charitable operations: food banks, clothing depositories, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, charity hospitals and medical centers, and other facilities for the assistance of people in need. We take this stuff seriously. Indeed, one of the mini-crises of American life – from a charitable perspective – is the near-universal opulence of our society. Very few persons, as a percent of the whole, actually need survival assistance at any given moment. There’s an actual shortage of neighbors to help!

     Simply for its illustrative power, there follows a piece that first appeared at the old Palace of Reason.

Looking For Trouble

Curmudgeon Emeritus -- Francis W. Porretto

October 27, 2003

     Interesting patterns and trends are everywhere around us. It baffles your Curmudgeon how an opinion writer could say that he has nothing to write about. As Robert Pirsig and others have said, "The more you look, the more you see."

     A Curmudgeonly acquaintance, who shall henceforth be called Sarah, can be found in the local supermarket every evening between seven and eight o'clock. Yes, she's married. No, she doesn't have a huge family that requires an hour's grocery shopping every evening. She spends her time there because she enjoys it.

     Sarah's not insane, nor is she unique. A substantial number of Americans shop for pleasure. If the supermarket seems an odd venue for this pastime, well, different strokes and all that.

     But Sarah's not shopping in the conventional sense. She's looking for trouble.

     No, no! She's not looking to start a fight over the price of eggs. She's looking for trouble so she can help to fix it. Since she's a gifted shopper, with a remarkable ability to squeeze $10 of purchases out of a $5 bill, she looks for people having shopping trouble: women who can't fill their larders adequately on their household budgets.

     Sarah's really good at this, and the folks she helps purely love her. However, at our last conversation, Sarah observed that fewer and fewer people seem to need her assistance. She mused about whether she ought to spend her evenings in a less affluent area.

     Another Curmudgeonly acquaintance, a retired gentleman whom we'll call Ray, has the charming habit of driving his truck around Long Island's major roads, looking for motorists with mechanical problems. When he finds one, he stops and offers to fix the misbehaving automobile right then and there, for free. Such is Ray's prowess with cars that he has yet to fail to deliver.

     But Ray, too, is longing for richer trouble pickings. Long Islanders' cars don't break down nearly as often as they once did. Worse, most motorists have cell phones now, and they don't hesitate to use them. Ray's been talking about moving upstate, to Sullivan or Delaware County, where the average vehicle is older and more likely to fail.

     This past decade, local churches have reported a strong upswing in volunteers for charity work. Charity kitchens often have more willing workers than they have clients to feed. Our hospitals are blessed with a goodly number of volunteers to keep company with the afflicted: reading to them, talking to them, or performing less savory chores that will not be described further here.

     A lot of Americans are out there looking for trouble -- and finding that there's less of it to go around.

     This is a happy thing. Right? Well, of course it is. Unless your sense of worth requires others in less pleasant circumstances for you to minister to. But the swelling of the ranks of volunteers has your Curmudgeon wondering.

     That Americans are willing to give so greatly speaks wonderfully of them. It also begs a question that many would prefer not to face: "Why are you doing this?"

     The question is not meant maliciously, but as a measure of another social dynamic whose arrival has been long foretold: the "hedonic treadmill."

     Economics teaches that everything is subject to a law of diminishing marginal utility. At any instant, to any potential purchaser, unit 2 of some good is worth less to him than unit 1. Unit 3 is worth still less, and so on. If there's a reason this law shouldn't apply to the direct satisfactions of life, your Curmudgeon can't see it. If it does, then the direct satisfaction of entirely personal desires -- that is, those desires that bear on no one else's appetites and interests but one's own -- will gradually lose appeal as those desires are met to an increasing degree. Therefore, as Smith prospers and accumulates the things he wants, the things that directly bring him pleasure, the effort he must expend to pursue more of them will appear to become excessive. When his efforts seem greater than the pleasure afforded, they will cease; Smith will step off the treadmill.

     Put another way: Just how many CDs and video games can you really enjoy?

     Of course, this is an oversimplification. It assumes that novelty and variety play no part. It also discounts the changes in tastes that come with age. Even so, it has some force. Handsome, affluent young professionals don't go looking for charitable involvement because they can't afford ski trips or find bed partners. Nor do they all do it because of religious conviction.

     We reach out to others, in part, because there comes a point where it's the only way to continue to grow.

     The Boomer generation, which participates heavily in the eleemosynary trend, has been the most individualistic, even self-centered, generation in American history. We've almost worn out the word "I." Even so, we appear to have reached our epiphany, our recognition that there are fulfillments beyond those of the senses, and that they deserve a place in our lives.

     It's a considerable irony that this should be happening at a time when true misery of all sorts is receding rapidly from our shores. Sarah's and Ray's clients are fewer and further between for the very same reason that Sarah and Ray can afford to help them: the entire nation is getting richer and economically more secure at an incomprehensible rate.

     Of course, that's not something to be unhappy about. Indeed, charitably-inclined Westerners headed abroad in search of recipients for their largesse might be the shot in the arm our airlines need. The airlines themselves might be the biggest beneficiaries of such a movement. Imagine that.

     As you can see from the date at the top, the above piece is seventeen years old. A lot of my readers laughed at it, back then – and it does have a somewhat humorous tone. Yet it was stimulated by real people and real events. That’s how seriously charitable persons – Christians, at least – take their charitable doings.

     At this point you’re probably wondering why this is at the forefront of my thoughts this fine April morning. Well, courtesy of my colleague David Drake, we have this offense against decency:

     An openly gay and anti-Christian New York state senator has condemned Franklin Graham and Samaritan's Purse for wanting to treat coronavirus patients.

     Samaritan's Purse set up an emergency field tent hospital in Central Park at the request of city officials. The respiratory unit, which will be supervised by Mount Sinai Hospital, can accommodate 68 patients.

     "It's a shame that the federal government has left New York with no other choice but to accept charity from bigots," State Sen. Brad Hoylman said. "You know those medical tents being constructed in Central Park? They’re being set up by notorious anti-gay bigot Franklin Graham. Mr. Graham must promise to treat EVERY patient with dignity and respect."...

     Even some in the city's LGBT community thumbed their nose at the Christian ministry's charity.

     "I don't want to demonize people who are volunteering their time, but it is a concerning thing," Amy Martin, a Brooklyn resident and former nursing assistant, told Gothamist.

     "On the one hand, this is absolutely an all hands on deck situation," she continued. "On the other hand, as an LGBT New Yorker, I would be hesitant to make that my first choice of care. I'd much rather be seen anywhere else."

     Remember what I wrote only yesterday?

     Homosexuals have made a habit of defining themselves by their sexual preferences. They’ve made those preferences the center of their lives. They’ve trumpeted them at the normal majority in a blatant display of disdain for and triumph over millennia of social norms.

     Timing, they say, is everything.

     I’m straining to avert fury. I’m also straining to resist clich├ęd expressions about “social cohesion” in “critical moments.” They come rather easily at times such as these. But I would ask the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch a simple question:

If you could choose for your neighbors
Either Brad Hoylman and Amy Martin,
Or the volunteers of Samaritan’s Purse,
Which would you prefer?

     Imagine someone like Brad Hoylman or Amy Martin as a board member of your Homeowners’ Association. They seek positions like those, you know. For decades, homosexuals have sought the power to destroy those who disapprove of them, even by indirection. They’re heavily overrepresented in Human Resources departments, from which they can pillory anyone who excites their ire...and all that takes is a hint of overt Christianity or a single disapproving word or glance.

     To make what one does with one’s genitals the central defining fact of one’s life is about as immature and self-limiting a choice as I can imagine. Yet that’s what hatred-filled homosexual bigots such as Hoylman and Martin have done. They cannot abide being disapproved of for that choice. It angers them so greatly that they condemn others who disapprove and are willing to say so. Indeed, they would drive them out of their jobs and homes, were they able; that’s been demonstrated on too many occasions to warrant discussion.

     Such persons are acquiring ever more influence over governments and organizations with the power to destroy lives. Don’t doubt that they would destroy Franklin Graham and his Samaritan’s Purse volunteers, if they were able. That’s how deep their hatred and power-lust runs.

     I can practically hear my homosexual readers screaming that “We’re not all like that!” And it is so, and no argument from me. I’ve had a number of homosexual friends and acquaintances over the years, including one whose attempts to sway me to his side of the street lasted the entirety of my college career. They were all essentially decent people – but with a qualifier: Not one of them was willing to take a hand in disciplining his unruly, hatred-filled “colleagues,” not even to the point of criticizing them where others could hear.

     It’s a group-identity mentality, akin to that of many otherwise decent American Negroes. “We must protect ‘our own’ from The Man, even the ones that don’t deserve it.”

     I’ve written on several occasions about the dynamic that propels identity politics. Once an identity group acquires sociopolitical stature, it will spur the assembly of other identity groups eager to get their snouts into the gravy. Such groups swiftly acquire disproportionate influence, owing to their militancy and their short, tightly focused agendas. It’s deplorable – but it’s also irresistible. It’s why the political recognition of groups must be resisted at all costs. Clarence Carson knew this:

     [W]e are forgetting and have to a considerable extent discarded the methods for civilizing groups....Both the mob action and the techniques by which it is quelled are eloquent testimony to our failure to civilize groups. The current alternatives favored by “liberals” amount to admonitions to submit to the pressure and coercion of the group.

     If a convention were held to choose a Patron Saint of Americanism, my nominee would be the late Dr. Clarence B. Carson.

     And so we are seeing the emergence of a new identity group: white Christians. We have been blamed for others’ ills, trials, and dissatisfactions for long enough, and we want an end to it. We’re rejecting attributions of “white guilt.” We’re becoming socially exclusive. We’re forming White Protection Leagues. We’re establishing proprietary communities and refusing admission to those not of our kind. In other words, we’re doing what those who revile us have been doing for some time now – and of course, we’re being castigated for it.

     It was all as foreseeable as the sunrise. You cannot pour venom upon the Sarahs, the Rays, and the Franklin Grahams of our land without evoking a reaction...and that reaction has arrived.

     Time to pray.


Paul Bonneau said...

'Not one of them was willing to take a hand in disciplining his unruly, hatred-filled “colleagues..." '

Yes, this does seem to be a general tendency among groups. However there is some variation in it - say for example white Christians, compared to Muslims.

There does seem to be a cost, to not acting in this manner. Those most disciplined might become a target of other groups lacking this discipline. The discipline, or restraint, or self-critique, might appear to be weakness to those outside the group, who are motivated by group loyalty only.

I know which society I prefer though - one where this restraint is commonplace, where people do not fall into continual mindless tribal warfare.


I've posted - and I won't give a link to not abuse the privilege - many times trying to call my pro-migration fellow Jews to account. I've also attempted to point out the error in their ways about using "Tikkun Olam" (which I've recently been told is a relatively new development) used to rationalize all the SJW cr*p Leftist Jews push.

There's an old Yiddish proverb - from memory:

It is important to not cheat a fellow Jew. It is even more important to not cheat a non-Jew, for all Jews will be shamed by that act.

And in good Jewish tradition, debating things endlessly*, by extension it is important to reproach Jews who DO do things like that.

I don't have a racist bone in my body. I truly believe, and try to live by MLK's dictum of individual character. But I look at blacks hating whites en masse. I see videos of Chinese people sneezing and coughing on food in stores or other actions that could spread the virus (e.g., a woman in Australia IIRC who wiped her nose on a tissue... then wiped the tissue on a park bench). I see these things time and again and again, and think that I may not condone racist views... but I'm getting to understand them. And I hate that.

* My favorite expression on this: One topic, two Jews, you'll get three opinions in four minutes.

Drake's Place said...

Thank you for the mention and link, Francis.

Sadly, too many people around the world have allowed themselves to be polarized against each other based on self-identification that, in times of need, are irrelevant.

Stellar job, as always, from your writing.
-Dave Drake


As a follow-up. Just saw this video here.

What possible reason could a person have to go to every computer for sale, touch every keyboard, and put your hands on the "logical" place where people would open and close the laptop screens... other than to touch them "because"?

This is not a person looking at computers to buy.

And while, yes, this person doing so is an individual making individual choices. How many times does it have to happen before people start making assumptions in general about the people doing so - whether rightly or not?


And this charmer:

Again, from the article, she's doing it for profit purposes. But enough of these examples and people will jump to conclusions.