Non-Virtuous Signaling

There is a ghastly trend gaining strength today: The practice of “virtue signaling” or showing everyone else how totally awesome you are by performing a meaningless gesture that serves no other purpose. Indeed, it’s all the “rage” now.

To be fair, anyone who has even put a bumper sticker on their car, bought an article of clothing solely for the logo, or put a candidate’s sign in their yard has done this. After all, no one is going to decide to vote for someone because of your yard sign. And disarming our nuclear arsenal may be a good thing in certain circumstances, one of those is most certainly not because “You Can’t Hug Children with Nuclear Arms”. So, this is not new. But it seems we are taking it to new levels.

Social media causes some of this: Remember the “99% of people won’t post this” postings that ran rampant a few years ago on social media?  Yes, “99% of people” won’t post whatever it is because it’s (fill in the blank – religious, controversial, bold, whatever), and these people are (again, choose one or more – cowards, bigots, morons, whatever) but doggone it, I will post it and that makes me awesome! Sorry, you 99% losers, you suck compared to me.

Or take the recently minted “Just Be Kind” signs. Please. No one except the most naïve simpleton is going to think that a Bad Person – on their way to be a Very Bad Thing – is going to see this sign and change their minds. This sign – like the English, Spanish and Arabian language signs post-2016 election declaring strangers to be welcome – is all about the virtuousness of the person posting the sign. That person is kind; those without signs are hateful haters who hate.

If mere annoyance was the worst of it, the increase in virtue signaling would be bearable. Unfortunately, it takes on far more sinister – and frankly, deadly – forms. For example, let’s look at everyone’s favorite school policy, the “gun free zone”. This is virtue signaling at its most idiotic and dangerous. Like the Just Be Kind signs, only a fool thinks that making schools “gun free” will prevent a determined maniac from entering the school armed and to devastating effect. It’s a progressive fantasy of the highest order that an armed intruder, upon viewing a “gun free zone” sign, will turn around, drop their guns, and have a good hug and cry with the staff.

Let’s look at this another way. I design mechanical and electrical systems, some of which are outside. In these instances, we install fencing around the equipment. Why? For one, to keep vandals out. But also, to keep people and wildlife away from dangerous equipment. No one wants to have an accident where someone is killed by electrical shock.

But taking the logic of the gun free zones, why do we need a fence? Would not signs do? Why do we need fences around electrical substations? For that matter, why do we need x-ray machines at the airport? Or baggage screeners? Or security guards at banks? If mere signs are expected to do the trick at schools, why can’t signs be counted on everywhere?

And it’s now worse still. The left, in its latest fit of unhinged rage, is showing its “virtue” by berating those they disagree with in a bizarre form of “shaming”. This is truly ironic, since it’s the political left that for decades told us that “shame” has no place in society. Egged on by congresswoman Maxine Waters and others, people are encouraged to show how enlightened thy are by shouting, disrupting and otherwise making nuisances of themselves. In other words, their virtue is such that they are permitted – no, encouraged, even commanded – to engage in the most non-virtuous behaviors to make their point.

It will never work: Minds will never be changed by someone screaming at them. Nor are minds changed by violence or the threat thereof. Scream, threaten or throw your tantrums. No one will listen, and no one will change.

It’s like a Very Wise Man once said long ago of His day’s own virtue signalers, “they have their reward”. So be it with today’s.

 

virtue-signaling

Beware the wolves in sheep’s clothing…

Our Moral Failure

mirror-man

 

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
(If you want to make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change”

– Michael Jackson

 

At the end of the day, no law, restriction, bumper sticker, protest or any other human activity can fix what ails us. For that which ails us is inside: Our individual and collective hearts are sick.

We have taken what were a collective set of values – based mostly but not entirely on Judeo-Christian concepts such as the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule – and replaced them with a whole lot of nothing. And then we scramble and try to legislate what was once normal behavior, and that which we spent decades deriding as old-fashioned.

Take the “Me Too” movement – please. Since the 1960s, Americans – especially American youth – have embraced an ethos of “free love”. Forget marriage, you can and should have sex when, where and with whomever you like. Add to this abortion on demand and no-fault divorce so that “mistakes” can be eliminated rather than worked through and lived with, and you have generations of men (and women) who think it’s their birthright to not just procreate but to do so at will.

And yet here we are: A movement that is decrying men for being, well, men. Uncontrolled men; men unbound by any sense of chivalry, of decency, or of responsibility. We forget the institution of marriage, among its many benefits, served to channel the sexual desires of men to positive purpose while at the same time drawing lines that could not be crossed without great financial and societal risk. Men unbound by mores act like, well, pigs. And now we belatedly try to impose puritanical standards on them.

This will fail not because it’s wrong, but because there is no moral authority. The same people screaming “Me Too” are those that scream “My Body, My Choice”; these are the folks that pined for the removal of God and marriage and every other standard that once underpinned society. Anything they offer will be capricious, random and utterly confusing because it answers to no higher power than man. And that is not enough.

The same dynamic is seen in the rash of school shootings. Again, we strove to remove – and succeeded in removing – that which we once claimed created good citizens. We also razed the idea of excellence and elevated the status of “victim”, to the point that victimhood is the highest form of status today. And we destroyed the family so that many adolescents – at best – receive guidance from only one parent and in the case of boys, sadly, the wrong one.

But humans don’t change, and young humans will do as they have since the days of Cain and Abel. They act out, they get angry, they bully, they fight. Not that long ago, disagreements were solved by – at worst – a fistfight in the school yard. Now they are solved by gunfire. But what can we expect when we (1) tell kids there is no objective truth, (2) there is no higher power in life, (3) they are all special and (4) acting like a victim is the fastest way to earn praise in life?

It’s far too late to return to the ways that, while not perfect, resulted in a relatively peaceful and pleasant society. We have destroyed too much and erected the idol of government in its place. Rules, restrictions and social engineering will continue to be applied, and they will continue to fail.

What ails us is not inanimate objects. Nor is it scapegoated organization. It’s not even politicians, although some of them are accessories.

It’s us. And any solution can only start with us.