Virtue Signaling Isn’t Virtue

And when it’s based on a lie, it’s even worse.

So, this is making the rounds on FB again:

“We are asking everyone to say a prayer for the US “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan and have lost 9 Marines in 4 days. IT WOULD BE NICE TO SEE IT ON EVERYONE’S PAGE…Even if its only for an hour. I am HONORED to re-post this! Sending prayers, strength and encouragement to the Marines and other soldiers and their families who lost their lives, and to the Warriors that are still fighting.
R.I.P. Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, and Sheldon Tate 27…. All are Marines who gave their lives this week for us ….for our freedom! There’s no media for them at all… not even a mention of their names. Please honor them by copying and pasting this post.R.I.P.
Please keep these Marines families in your prayers.

The reason why these names are not being mentioned in the media is that all of those men, the ones who actually existed, have been dead for close to seven years.

Here’s a rundown of the names on the list: http://icoolspark.blogspot.com/2010/09/honoring-fallen-millitary-and-keeping.html

Notice that they were actually scattered across multiple units, from multiple countries, and died on different days in different provinces.  So not only is the originator of this social media chain letter a liar, but he or she is a lazy liar.

So, why do this?  Why recycle a list of the names of men seven years dead, claiming that they just died in the last week, and worse, that their deaths are being ignored by the media?

The answer is a simple one: vanity.

The post calls for “honoring the fallen.”  Many will blindly repost it for just that reason, though they are not truly honoring the dead; they only want other people on social media to see them do it.  They don’t care about those men; otherwise they might actually have taken two minutes to look them up and realize that they weren’t all 3/5, they weren’t killed in Afghanistan last week, and that the post is bullshit.  But no, they’re better than the media and all those people posting stupid videos on Facebook, you see, and they’ll show you.  They’ll show how patriotic they are and how much they care about soldiers they don’t know, and couldn’t care less about outside of showing the world how good and virtuous they are on social media.

There are a couple of fitting passages from the Gospels that have something to say about just this sort of display, but I’ll leave you with a simple thought.

Before you open your mouth, or post on social media, contemplate why you are speaking or posting.  Are you really doing it for the fallen, or are you doing it for yourself, just to show others how much you care, with the minimum effort possible?

If the latter, perhaps it is better to refrain from speaking or posting.  Especially if, as in this case, you are easily shown to have been hoodwinked within a couple of minutes.

A Few Thoughts On Syria

It’s been a few days, so some of the more hyperbolic stuff surrounding the Tomahawk strike on Al Shayrat Airbase in Syria has started to die down.  Now might be the right time to weigh in with a few thoughts.  This should not be taken as an exhaustive analysis; I’m not in that business, and have slightly less of a finger on the pulse of these things than I did a couple years ago, when I was keeping a close eye on the jihadi groups cropping up in Syria. Continue reading “A Few Thoughts On Syria”

More on Realism and Storytelling

This post, while following on from the last one, will be addressing a bit more of a broad problem across genres.  It’s gotten a lot more talk in the science fiction and fantasy genres (particularly fantasy) than it has in the thriller genre, but it still applies.

The fantasy version of this has been most recently highlighted by the work of George R.R. Martin, though there are plenty of authors working along a similar vein, which has been coined “grimdark,” a term that became at first something of a joke, based on the tag-line for the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop sci-fantasy wargame: “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.”  Taken to its extreme, it can become so ludicrous that it shades into “grimderp.” Continue reading “More on Realism and Storytelling”

“Do-Something-ism” and Societal Childishness

“Jack,” Trent said, “When I was fourteen I was a man.  Had to be.  Well, it looks like your father dying has made you a man, too.

“I’m giving you this Sharps.  She’s an old gun, but she shoots straight.  I’m not giving this gun to a boy, but to a man, and a man doesn’t ever use a gun unless he has to.  He never wastes lead shooting carelessly.  He shoots only when he has to, and when he can see what it is he’s shootin’ at.

“This gun is a present with no strings attached except that any man who takes up a gun accepts responsibility for what he does with it.  Use it to hunt game, for target practice, or in defense of your home or those you love.

“Keep it loaded always.  A gun’s no good to a man when it’s empty, and if it is settin’ around, people aren’t liable to handle it carelessly.  They’ll say, ‘That’s Jack Moffit’s gun, and it’s always loaded.’  It is the guns people think are unloaded that cause accidents.”

Louis L’Amour, The Mountain Valley War

This isn’t just about guns or the current uproar over the reaction to the Orlando shooting.  This goes deeper than that.  It goes to the very heart of much of what is causing so much political and social turmoil in the US today. Continue reading ““Do-Something-ism” and Societal Childishness”