Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Should We Say Anything?

T99's point is well taken.  Easy to say Of course we should express our opinions. But let me be contrary for a moment. (Quelle Surprise, eh?)

Clearly, the wrong people are speaking up. We are awash with people who don't realise that no one asked them.

This gets tricky, on both fronts.  There are people who will resent me speaking up, because they expected in their entitled way to be unopposed.  I will often jump in simply because I discern that a person deserves some pushback.  These seem to be much the same people who are willing to insert their political or social opinions gratuitously, don't they?  The rules flow only in one direction?

Or maybe it's just me being a jerk. Nah, couldn't be. I once jumped on a person at Sunday School who pressed her point by beginning her counter-counter-argument with I don't mean to attack the sincerity of anyone's faith, but... by interrupting "Of course you do.  That's your whole point, and I resent it."

I think we should be alert to giving offense, and asking ourselves whether whether it is worth it.  The cheap virtue signalling that I object to are most often people who have not actually thought what it would be like to hear their words.  They are plumping up their virtue at the expense of others.

There is nuance and context, situation to situation. All very amusing to contemplate, but not to discuss.

8 comments:

james said...

Context indeed. We're called to live at peace if possible. On the other hand, a watchman who doesn't warn the people is guilty when they die.

I'm not generally very aggressive; I prefer to leave pins pointing up and let other people's balloons settle down on them by themselves. That seemed to work better years ago, or maybe I hung out with different people then. These days it seems harder to get people to recognize an internal contradiction, or even a conflict with the data. (Within the restricted domain of a science, the scientists are good at spotting problems. Outside... it depends.)

Unknown said...

I find those most resentful of my entering the conversation are those on "my side" who really don't like my suggestions that the message would be better without the logical fallacies, biased data-sources, etc.

Retriever said...

I very much like T99's point but I am such a wrathful clod that I don't know how to implement it without discrediting my faith and values. To give the range, when I approached my college thesis advisor about whether he thought me suited for the Foreign Service he offended me mightily by guffawing and saying "diplomacy no. I had you pegged more for tactical nuclear strikes."

anyway, I find that I frequently find myself quivering as I overhear dreadful things said around me. Outrageous, cruel, stupid, etc. A boss making demeaning comments about the mentally ill and disabled. I literally bit my lip til it gushed to avoid slugging him. I could always relate to the Wrathful Peter in the Gospel--I might have cut off that ear. In practice, having a family and disabled kid to support makes me timid. So my line in the sand is when I see someone being bullied or a person being abused, insulted, threatened. Then I WILL defend them no matter what. But I no longer dare say what I think of the vile attitudes about abortion, secular Christmas, people trashing the faithful around me.

Sam L. said...

It seems many people don't even think about "I don't mean to attack the sincerity of anyone's faith, but...", they just go ahead and do it and are horrified beyond belief when called on it. There is a fooferah in the science fiction community currently, and for some time, but it seems more of a "you are not worthy to write SF because... from some of those established in the field against those not yet established or not published by a major publisher.

Retriever said...

Upon reflection, the issue is the conflict between's one's desire to speak out for what is right (or against some evil) and one's hope NOT to be a troll in real life (I think). Because I sometimes think that many people attacking other people's faith or views in public must then go home and troll people online. I certainly like to debate a point, and may attack stupid ideas, but I TRY not to attack the people espousing them. That old "hate the sin and love the sinner" which none of us are perfectly able to live up to.

Texan99 said...

Well, I hope I didn't sound as if I were advocating spouting off with any irritable criticism that ever occurs to me! I couldn't agree more that we have to watch ourselves to be sure we're not motivated by spite, a spirit of strife, or vain-glory, especially those of us (like myself) with strident and impatient personalities. My only objection to the original post is that I don't believe all statements about virtue are necessarily 100% virtue-signaling. Sometimes they're just statements we need to make in order to stand up for what's right. If we make them tactfully and without hypocrisy, we'll not only be avoiding our own spiritual danger but also making ourselves more likely to be heard by the people who need to hear us.

But do I agree that the danger of falling into mere virtue-signaling is ever-present? Absolutely. I usually call it moral preening, and find it very offensive indeed.

Retriever said...

T99, I NEVER think of you as advocating irritable criticism...:) I think of you as brave and forthright. And I do agree that we have to stand up for what's right, I'm just frustrated by my own clumsiness at this lately. I've been reminded firmly recently by people I value: that I should ponder the fate of the wrathful in Dante's inferno, and that we are supposed to try and be a good advertisement for our faith. Which I doubt I have been recently...

Texan99 said...

You're kind to say so, if you're not jes' funnin' with me, but honestly wrath is one of my most difficult sins. I'm arrogant and judgmental, as even my dearest friends would readily attest. The positive side of that may sometimes be clarity and justice, but I tremble sometimes to think what picture I actually paint of my faith, especially to people who don't know me well.