A Culture of Vice or of Virtue

Why should we care at all about “virtue”? Because people will protest over the political. They will kill over virtue.

Once upon a time, there was a largely peaceful and prosperous country filled with people who believed their most precious possession was Liberty. They believed in living as they pleased, so long as they harmed no one, being left alone, and, in turn, leaving others alone. Most importantly, they believed in a government that reflected these values, staying out of the lives of private citizens who sought, for the most part, to peaceably go about their lives.

These people also believed in working hard, living frugally, and saving rainy days. While it was true that some people did not do as well as others, most people did well enough, and some did very well indeed. When a neighbor needed help, they helped, not because they were forced to, but because it was the right thing to do. Communities thrived  based on compassion and not on compulsion. Society worked, because, by and large, everyone played by these very simple rules.

No, it wasn’t perfect. There were serious injustices stemming from long held racial prejudices that had infested human society since its earliest days. From the question of chattel slavery to the grotesque mistreatment of the native populace, from the internment of law abiding Japanese Americans during the Second World War to the generational poverty machine that has devoured so many minorities, America has an imperfect record.

In America’s defense, where they have done wrong, they have always been voices of reason and virtue that have persecuted those wrongs, and those voices put blood on the line where necessary to set things right. Even in times great injustice, the seeds of change were sewn and, often over generations, unjust practices have been and will continue to be discarded, not despite the philosophy of the Founding Fathers but because of them.

It is part of the American culture to wet the appetite of each generation to make a better nation than the previous generation.

“God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion.”
-Thomas Jefferson-

Why should we care at all about “virtue“? Because people will protest over the political. They will kill over virtue. Berkeley, CA, Huntington Beach, CA, and Alexandria, VA prove that the ideal of peaceful pluralism in America is a thing of the past, at least for the time being. Today, two vast political camps dominate the American landscape, motivated by a toxic brew of inflammatory misinformation and entrenched habitual mistrust of “the other“.

Over the last twenty years, we’ve witnessed endless cycles of prejudicial witch hunts and reprisal campaigns of character assassination, with each side trying to break the will of the other to continue the fight, but only ever succeeding in fueling the animosity that inevitably leads to cycle of escalation. We’ve finally reached the point in America that rhetoric is finally spilling over into actual physical violence, rabidly self righteous “Antifa” socialists facing off with just as rabidly self righteous “MAGA” nationalists in altercations with increasing frequency.

Sadly, this is basic human nature, revealing its bared teeth and blood soaked hands again, and, given the example of history, there’s little chance of escaping what is likely inevitable at this point. Even though our society remains deeply fractured and ideologically rudderless, both the left and the right have one thing in common. Both believe they are definitively “virtuous“, at least as far as their own definitions of virtue are concerned, making it all the more easy to persecute their opposition.

It is this keen sense of “virtue” versus “vice” that motivates people to action, not political rhetoric, and so long as we live in a country with no coherent shared national virtue, social anarchy will rule.

Unless…

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
-Dr. Seuss, The Lorax-

Take any boring local ordinance or state level legislation, and these same people will barely pay any attention at all. Charge it, however, with the “virtue” of helping the poor or getting rid of needless restrictions on business freedom, then instill the opposition with “vice“, for being indifferent to the plight of the poor or being unAmerican by being hostile to business owners who just want to ply an honest trade, suddenly it provokes both sides to action.

Whether or not a point of law or a candidate are capable of actually saving the country or personally ending inequality becomes entirely irrelevant. The only thing people care about is their emotional response. Political propagandists redefine “virtue” to whatever they need it to be to motivate their base, even if this makes it impossible for opposing sides to discuss things civilly or even at all, and even if it drives people to resorting to physical violence.

The only way to counter this malignant manipulation of the people is to reestablish an objective, coherent, and consistent national virtue, independent of the pundit class of both political parties. Make no mistake, this will not be easy, because there is a lack of a shared political vocabulary, which makes even rudimentary conversations between factions difficult. A larger obstacle still is the sheer number of people on both sides that simply aren’t equipped to engage in any kind of discussion.

Unless we successfully offer a new “American virtue” and corresponding political party to help buttress it, the violence in America will simply continue to get worse, and a lot of innocent people are going to get hurt.

Liberty is For The Win.


We just checked, and it turns out that fighting for Liberty isn’t free, because it requires time and energy to research, prepare, and propagate this message for you. Please drop just a dollar a month into the proverbial tip jar and become a Patriot Patron. Of course, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share. Keep this fight for Liberty going! – @LibertyIsFTW

A Short Word: Americanism

To the first generations of American citizens, personal virtue, especially in the leaders of the day, was often more important than their political beliefs.

Let’s take a look at the state of the American culture today, not in any gritty detail, but just a quick glance is all that’s necessary. Does our culture still reflection the core values of our Founding Fathers, and their deeply held principles, upon which our national character was assumed and thus founded? Let’s explore this by retelling one of the oldest and dearest apocryphal American tales.

It is February 22nd of 1738, and a doting father had a special birthday gift for his especially adventurous six year old son. The boy had been tagging along with his father and the house slaves whenever they gathered firewood almost since he could walk. When he was a toddler, he would shake with glee in his father’s arms when the men cut down a limb or a tree. As he grew into a young boy, he was always eager for even just a chance to take a lick or two himself, grinning up at his father with joy whenever he fell a limb or branch (with help of course).

If joy were a fire, the young boy would have burned the whole manor down as he unwrapped a very real hatchet, with a real steel blade, with a keen edge, and a polished wooden handle, no more or less than the hatchets that the men used in their work. As young boys are wont to do, the six year old ached terribly to use the hatchet, so his father had to stop his son before he could break down all of the firewood about the estate into tinder.

They washed up and joined the family for lunch. They prayed and ate together, and talked of family matters, then the father left to survey his estate, leaving the young boy to his own whiles. Tucking his hatchet into his belt, he allowed his mother to wrap him into a warm coat and gloves, before scurrying out the door. Soon he found himself walking along the main path from the manor leading to the main road, and there he spied it. A branch barely longer than his arm stuck out from the trunk of one of a row cherry trees along the path.

The men might have grabbed it and cut it off with a knife, but, at least to this young boy, clearly a hatchet would be just as good. He fumbled for a while to free the hatchet from his belt, as the coat his mother put on him hung to his knees. He finally managed to hike the back of his coat up enough to free the hatchet. Finally he took careful and deliberate aim at the branch, thinking about everything his father had taught him over the years, how to aim, how to hold the hatchet, how to breath. And he swung.

And he missed.

Rather than neatly taking the limb with a single swipe as the men did, the hatchet bit deep into the truck an inch above the branch. He felt the blood run right out of his face, as all of his boyish confidence evaporated. He took hold of the handle and tried to carefully pull the blade free. The wood creaked loudly against the blade like a stricken animal as the hatchet came free. The gash was as wide as the blade, clear through the bark and nearly an inch deep into live wood of the tree. Not knowing what else to do, the young boy ran home, quietly going to his room to await what he knew would come.

Later the same afternoon, his father returned home in a stew. One of the servants had discovered the state of the tree, thinking one of the slaves had damaged it. He told the father, who, immediately upon hearing the nature of the damage, quickly realized the culprit’s identity. Sending a servant to fetch his son, the father waited by the door. The young boy came downstairs and slowly pulled on his coat. Together, father and son walked in grim silence outside and along the path toward the wounded tree.

Standing beside the tree, Augustine Washington faced his son and sternly demanded, “Do you know how this tree came to be in this state, George?” Ashamed and fighting tears, a young George Washington looked up at his father and replied, “I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet.” Moved by George’s honesty, his father knelt before his young son and too him into his arms tightly, replying, “My boy, the honesty of a son is worth a thousand trees.

The tale of George Washington and his cherry tree was once accepted as settled fact, though it appears now to be clearly the contrivance of a well meaning biographer. This tells us much more about the culture of the the time. To the first generations of American citizens, personal virtue, especially in the leaders of the day, was often more important than their political beliefs. The reasoning for this was as obvious then as it should be now.

It doesn’t matter what a virtuous man believes politically. Should a virtuous man find himself to be proven wrong, his own virtue will compel him to admit he’s wrong, even if it brings shame upon him, then he will seek to make amends to the best of his ability. He will do this on his own accord guided by his own conscience. A virtuous man will never abuse the power of his office to gain political advantage over his political opponents. A virtuous man will never resort to ridiculous arguments over the definition of “is” to save his political career. A virtuous man will not destroy the reputation of other virtuous men in pursuit of political office.

So are we living in a culture worthy of our Founding Fathers? I leave the ultimate judgment to each of you to decide. I only ask, if not, should we not hunger for a better state of affairs, if not for ourselves, but for those that come after us?

“In times of universal deceit,
telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
-George Orwell-

Be brave. Be free.

Liberty is For The Win!


We just checked, and it turns out that fighting for Liberty isn’t free, because it requires time and energy to research, prepare, and propagate this message for you. Please drop just a dollar a month into the proverbial tip jar and become a Patriot Patron. Of course, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share. Keep this fight for Liberty going! – @LibertyIsFTW