Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Assorted…But Not Really

     I fear that the day looming before me will be a trying one, Gentle Reader. I hope the following brief collage of links and observations will tide us both over until the storms have passed.

     “People are never more sincere than when they assume their own moral superiority.” – Thomas Sowell

     I would suggest a small addendum to Dr. Sowell’s insight. I would note that people are equally sincere when they proclaim their own moral superiority. Nor need such a proclamation be explicit. Indeed, the most common form is what has come to be known as virtue signaling.

     Virtue signaling is a common practice. The Left is widely known for it, but it also occurs among persons of other political alignments. It most often manifests itself as a pronouncement of negative judgment upon others’ actions or preferences. The case I castigated here is a good one for study.

     Virtue signaling can be a purely tactical matter; that is, it can arise from a desire to claim the moral high ground in some argument. However, it can also express a need to feel superior to others that has nothing to do with any controversy.

     American public life is full of virtue signalers. Which of them are straining to win arguments? Which are exalting themselves out of an internal need? And which are doing so “on advice of counsel?” One can never be perfectly certain, of course…but oftentimes the evidence will compel one conclusion and permit no other.

     Here’s today’s forest of interesting links:

     I hope you’ll at least glance at those stories. There’s a lot of virtue signaling – in several cases, outright lying as well – going on among the persons they cover. I leave it to my Gentle Readers to sort them into the appropriate tactical / psychological / “on advice of counsel” pigeonholes. I don’t think you’ll find it difficult.

     As I said in the previous segment, such behavior is common in our public life. But I would have you ask yourself: Ought we to tolerate it as we so often do? Surely not when it involves an outright lie, as in Barack Hussein Obama’s “no precedent” mealy-mouthery. (That was a particularly clumsy lie: as one of the last acts of his presidency, Obama pardoned a general who had been accused, tried, and convicted of lying to the FBI.) At other times it might be no worse than obnoxious, but how much more tolerable should that be?

     Of the seven virtues closely associated with Christian allegiance:

  • Faith,
  • Hope,
  • Charity,
  • Prudence,
  • Justice,
  • Temperance,
  • Fortitude,

     …the one that has eluded me most often, and most maddeningly, is temperance:

     Temperance is defined as moderation or voluntary self-restraint. It is typically described in terms of what an individual voluntarily refrains from doing. This includes restraint from retaliation in the form of non-violence and forgiveness, restraint from arrogance in the form of humility and modesty, restraint from excesses such as splurging now in the form of prudence, and restraint from excessive anger or craving for something in the form of calmness and self-control.

     Not to put too fine a point on it, I’m an exceedingly intemperate person. Both my enthusiasms and my animosities are supercharged, and always have been. As an old friend once put it, I yell loud and I kiss loud. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve become an isolate. There’s no justification for disturbing others’ peace as I am wont to do…as I seem incapable of not doing.

     So instead of socializing, I write. That puts the burden of choice on the potential consumer. If he enjoys immersing himself in the fulminations of a raving Irish-American lunatic, so be it; if not, he can walk away unscathed. And with relevance to the thrust of the previous segments: Might the world be a better place – a more peaceful, less stressful place – if our public virtue-signalers were to adopt a similar course?

     “Remind me,” Jubal told her, “to write an article on the compulsive reading of news. The theme will be that most neuroses can be traced to the unhealthy habit of wallowing in the troubles of five billion strangers. Title is ‘Gossip Unlimited’—no, make that ‘Gossip Gone Wild.’ ”

     [Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land ]

     Indeed. Among other things, such wallowing is a stimulus to virtue signaling by oneself. Just sayin’. Anyway, back to our Swedish movie.

     Finally, a semi-relevant observation about the Kung Flu / Wuhan Crud / Lung Pao Sicken / Bat Soup Flu. It has now been established that we didn’t know anything about this virus when its spread began. All the predictions have been confounded. All the advice has been battled over, contradicted, argued and reargued, and we still have no idea how to avert further damage from it. Accordingly, everyone who’s made a strident, hyper-confident factual assertion about this disease should be viewed with skepticism forevermore. A proper respect for “the ignorance of experts” (Richard Feynman) demands it…to say nothing of the salutary effect it would have on our equanimity, by dampening our public virtue-signalers.

     Have a nice day.


Andy Texan said...

We truly are at a crisis point of this generation (fourth turning).The Democrats are have been in secret rebellion against the USA and are now in open rebellion. Their aim is nothing less than destroying the economic security and human rights of all Americans. The economy will not last much longer with terrible consequences. The President must act decisively against the rebellious state of California and the corporate ownership of enemy Media while he can.

JWM said...

I too suffer from a lack of temperance. My reactions, especially to the current stream of outrages, go from zero to nuclear in no seconds flat. I have expended huge effort of will power, and much time in prayer trying to change this aspect of my inner self. Each day I pray, "May the Holy Spirit temper my emotions", and each day the anger flashes up, and absolutely toxic levels of rage follow. Slowly, I am learning that one's individual temperament is as immutable as one's height, or eye color. It's hard wired in and simply does not change.
For a while I was reading every article I could on this virus crap. All I found was that there is little or no consensus on anything. There are evidence and experts to back up anything you think you want to believe. Those who have the power, and the access to the mega microphones of mass media have no more information, no more expertise, and no more knowledge than anyone else. What they have, though is control of the narrative, and the masses of TV zombies will simply nod, follow along, and do just what they are told.
Consider how many billions of dollars are thrown away to fight "climate change". Consider the lies about second-hand smoke, or any one of a number of hob-goblins. Anyone who thinks twice can see the nonsense. Experts, real experts can explain the truth. But soft-spoken Truth does not stand a chance in the face of a fifty thousand mega-watt lie. Laws, and public policy are set on the lie, "for the greater good".
I'll take my bicycle out today, and put in some miles to stay in shape, and get some relief from the frustration of taking in the news. All along my route I will see people walking alone on the street, no one near them for hundreds of yards. Yet they'll be out in the sun, dutifully wearing some useless mask, signalling their cooperation with the narrative, and certain they are doing so both for their own protection and "for the greater good". Thus far I have resisted the urge to confront some stranger, and ask, just what he thinks he's protecting himself from. It's not that I fear a confrontation. I realize all to well the futility.


Linda Fox said...

IRISH- American? I had assumed that the vowel-ending Porretto indicated Italian descent.

Francis W. Porretto said...

It's a long story, Linda.

Ragin' Dave said...

I have an Irish father and an Italian mother. Temperance doesn't come easy to me. Neither does sobriety.