Save the planet! Save the whales! Be an anti-racist! Be an ally! Be carbon-neutral! Defund the police!
Platitudes…garbage…virtue signalling nonsense. Our society has gone from picking up the trash on the street and working at soup kitchens to blathering about world-wide problems that either have no solution or aren’t problems to begin with. And that makes them so very very easy compared to the sometimes hard work of being a good person and doing what is right for those around you.
Throughout American history until the post-World War II era, had you asked almost any American what constitutes living a good life, he or she would have offered any or all of these five responses:
No. 1: Developing one’s moral character.
No. 2: Getting married and making a good family.
No. 3. Taking care of one’s family, especially one’s parents.
No. 4. Going to church (or synagogue).
No. 5. Taking care of the poor in one’s community, usually by joining a service organization such as a church charity, a Kiwanis, Lions, or Rotary Club.
Every single one of those is a brick in the foundation of a well-functioning society, and every single one is becoming rarer by the day.
I was first exposed to this as an earnest and naive student, as a member of the University Students Cooperative Society (an old socialist housing cooperative at UC Berkeley). House meetings — ostensibly for the decisions necessary to run a large house or small dorm — always devolved into politically charged discussions about what we should do about X or Y or Z. Saving the whales or helping Peoples’ Park or feeding the homeless or a hundred other feel-good issues over which we had no control.
We got nothing done, and ran the dorm into the ground. But I remember one of the residents; a quiet fellow from the Central Valley of California, who never spoke up, but occasionally would act. He used to bring homeless people (bums for us normals) in, help them get cleaned up, and give them a meal and maybe some clothes. Regardless of your opinions about the homeless, this man did the hard work that very few others were willing to do.
What’s that? Why yes, he was a fundamentalist Christian. And I have no doubt that he has followed all five of Dennis Prager’s list. It was his example (and several others) that allowed me to see fundamentalist Christianity for what it is, rather than how it is portrayed by a savagely hostile media.
It is so very, very easy to talk and shout and tweet about the ills of the world, but so much more difficult to act in ways that will improve those ills. Antonio Gramsci would be proud of the work done by his disciples in shifting the focus of America from doing good for those around you, to talking a good game, but accomplishing nothing more than the withering of the traditional path to a moral life.