Kindness

In the spirit of the virtue that has no name, I have been contemplating a virtue that I would like more of.

“Kindness” is, so far as I can tell, a yet uncorrupted word (“love” long since littered with booby traps) in the modern vernacular.

 

Perhaps the reason for that is that it has a very personal connotation.  One can “do good” in the abstract in a variety of impersonal ways: donate to a charity, start a non-profit, write open-source software…the list is infinite.

But the abstract is not good enough, and it will never be good enough.  No one would be so foolish to comfort an individual in the midst of heartbreak with the news that the Gates foundation is doing wonders in Africa.

Kindness, then, is an act or expression motivated by love and compassion, from a definite personto a definite person.  It is one of the sweeter parts of the Gospel that I can think of.

Here in the reactosphere we talk about Big Ideas.  This needs to happen, and is good.  But one of the chiefest of our Big Ideas is that Big Ideas have limitations: that often what is wanting is personal character rather than correct understanding; that particularity often triumphs over top-down decree.

It turns out there isn’t much to say about kindness.  It is an uncomplicated good: to be sought after more than talked about.  But, lest we forget.

“The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for.” ~ Mere Christianity

 

 

Big Damn Heroes

After reading a post by Ace on the feminine need for pain and suffering — whether externally or internally sourced — I was feeling pretty low.  The question you ask yourself is why?  It’s the same question the beta asks himself after a breakup:  We had a good thing going.  Why’d you have to go crazy?  It’s the same question a self-aware woman asks herself:  why do I shit-test?  It’s the question a newbie to the manosphere asks himself: why do I have to become a jerk to attract women?

Here’s the answer, I realized: because women are crazy.

I don’t mean that in a throw-my-hands-up, aw-shucks, whaddya-gonna-do way.  I mean destructively crazy, prone to doing things that cause ruin and suffering:

And thinking about this, I got pissed.  How many nice girls dating douchebags, and becoming like them?  How many men checking out?  How many abortions?  How many families delayed or prevented?  How many unhappy women?  How many unhappy men?  How many lies peddled by popular culture?  How many years of adolescent angst extended into adulthood?  How many condoms in the landfill?  And any of it for any redeeming purpose?

And in the midst of my anger and frustration, I gained conviction: the world is crazy, and I am not.

As long as I’ve been around these parts, I guess I’ve been waiting for the world to “get it,” eliminate feminism, yada yada.  “Oh, sure, I’m part of what almost amounts to a persecuted religious sect at the moment,” I thought subconsciously.  “But someday reality will assert itself, and…”

Now I realize: sure, reality will assert itself someday in the future, in terror and smoke.   But you can’t approach mass culture as though it’s run by reasonable adults.  It’s the mob, and must be treated as such—loved, but not negotiated or reasoned with.

I am the reasonable adult.  In some ways this is a small death because it places an awful lot of responsibility on your shoulders.  But it is also a huge relief to be able to say unshakeably:  I know X for certain, and I don’t need anyone else’s opinion to validate that.

Here is what I wrote at Ace’s:

If you’re a dude and this pisses you off, good. That means you’re sane. Part of your purpose on this earth is to survey this feminine tendency to self-destruction, shake your head, and say, “No. This is madness that can only lead to suffering and sorrow. I will not allow it.”

Faith before fear.


In the science fiction TV series Firefly, a girl with psychic powers is about to be burned at the stake by backward townsfolk that believe she’s a witch.  Her doctor brother, after trying in vain to talk down the witch hunters, steps on to the platform to burn with her.  It’s a very touching scene.

…Until the captain of their ship shows up and says, in effect, “Yeah this is tender and all, but how about instead of you two burning to death I have my buddy train a giant gun on everyone and we avoid all this.  And by the way you guys are all hicks.”

Notice the music change when the ship appears.  This is a frame change.  Like a woman awash in her own storm of emotions, the doctor and his sister are caught up in their own internal preparations for dramatic and noble death.  Then the captain and first mate show up trading one-liners and just overriding the situation.

I almost wrote a phrase here: “This is crack to chicks.”  But that’s not quite true.  a) The emotional obsessing beforehand  is crack to chicks, not the rescue, and b) crack is badthat’s the whole point!


 

A final observation, from the second clip:

Townsman: The girl is a witch!

Captain Fillion: Yeah, but she’s our witch. (cocks shotgun) So cut her the hell down!

Here it bears mentioning that the girl is kind of crazy.  She’s murdered a few people.  It would not be insane for her to be thinking, “Yeah, I deserve to be burned here.”

In a world without Christ, this would be the plight of all humanity.  “Why reach toward God?  We are forever unworthy.”

Christ replies, “Yeah, but you’re My  unworthy people.  So start acting like it!”

Also.

Quick Thought on Free Trade

The standard refutation I have heard against protectionist trade policies (tariffs and such intended to protect local industry) is almost gleeful rejoinder:  look, if other countries want to make stuff and send it to us for cheap, why on earth are we against that?  They do all the work, and we get the stuff!

And indeed, I think this argument has a lot of merit.

That said, it does make a mistake in its evaluation of the winners and losers in the situation.   “They do all the work” is counted as a pure negative on their side.

But work is a good thing.

“Cursed is the ground for thy sake…in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…”

Economic plans that fail to account for this will undervalue work, and see the humans in the system deteriorate.

Noblesse Oblige, Dogs

I was reminded today that Christmas is coming, and that this should not be taken lightly.  With the possible exception of Easter, there is no better time of the year to do good, and to request miracles.  There is a victory in Christmas that drowns out the world and yet is itself quiet and still.

Now for something completely different:Batman.

Maybe I am just a huge nerd, because I loved Donovan Greene’s post on Batman, Noblesse Oblige, and the Perennial Nature of the Aristocracy.*  If you have never read it, read(and watch) it!  And while you’re at it, read Whatever Happened To Noblesse Oblige? (also: Millenial Woes’ treatment).

The obligation to build runs strongly through every part of Reaction—from the importance of order over chaos, to the futility of activist-style protest, to the preference to improve the citizenry instead of importing another one.

And build what?  Humans mostly.  The press likes to paint neoreaction as power-hungry—and perhaps it is, being composed of humans.  But in principle, it is understood that the act of ruling consists chiefly of responsibility, rather than authority—and further, which comes first.

All these Internet words aren’t just theory, you know.  The neoreactionary project, at its best, consists of: taking responsibility for a portion of society, and working for its betterment, all without acting beyond our purview.  “Give me power, and I’ll fix things,” says the activist.  “I am fixing things, as far as I am able,” says the reactionary.  “Long live the King.”

Great, so you’ve decided to take some portion of responsibility for society: what can you do for them?

In my case, I have chosen my local ward(similar to a parish).  It is composed of about 200-300 single Mormons about 18-30.  I have no special authority or standing in this group.

What should I do?

My first thought was: I have knowledge.  I have access to a set of ideas that could bind the group more tightly, create asabiyyah, and make gender relations smoother.

In what’s probably not much of a spoiler, attempting to redpill people en masse on about four different axes is no small matter.

Next I thought: a lot of these people are obese, which is hurting their dating prospects.  I could set up a workout group.   But then I realized that what they most need is to eat better, which requires a more integrated approach than I could possibly take.

Finally I realized: sociohistorical principles and fitness encouragement are both good things, but they are terrible substitutes for a human being.  What they needed was not a program I dreamed up, but me.

What does your dog value about you?  The money you pay to the vet?  The precise engineering of the $30 dog food you feed him?

Rubbish.  He likes you—specifically, your spending time with him, paying attention to him, treating him as a friend.

Don’t get me wrong: take your dog to the vet.  If you think it’s better for him, feed him expensive dog food.  But you also have to communicate with him in ways he’ll understand.

So: I am going against my introverted, elitist, standoffish nature, and trying to:

  • talk to more people than I otherwise would,
  • attend more social events than I otherwise would
  •  remember names I would otherwise forget
  • talk a second, and third, and fourth time to people I otherwise wouldn’t

It feels kind of stupid writing this, to be honest.  No, I am not restoring masculinity.  No, I am not alerting anyone to the dangers of progressivism.  And pretty much anyone could do this: it doesn’t require my intelligence, my professional skills, money, strength…

But really, this should be encouraging to all of us.  If we are striving to be good kings before the fact, and doing so means taking responsibility for and doing good to groups of people, then it is a relief that no special trick, talent, or social position is necessary to begin.

*Now that you’ve read the whole post: How is Batman failing Gotham?

…the Best Kind of Correct

An oft-quoted phrase is that “Women are the gatekeepers of sex, and men are hte gatekeepers of commitment.”

But this is not really true for commitment or sex.  I have a really hard time imagining how a woman could rape me, while men can generally overpower women.  What stops men from having sex with any woman they want is a combination of their own decency and other men.  For more on this, see Cane’s post.  The point is: men, not women, are the gatekeepers of sex.

The phrase “commitment” is a funny beast.  What’s important to remember is that a commitment is not a commitment unless you burn the boats—when you can’t go back.

Non-marital “relationships” aren’t commitments, because they can be dissolved at will and there’s no real penalty for leaving them.  If I say “Sure, I’ll be your boyfriend,” to a girl and then change my mind the next day, what’s gonna happen to me?  Nothing, that’s what.

Marriage, though…you can leave physically, cheat, whatever—but you are still married to that person.  This isn’t something the state can obviate.  Marriage is the only real commitment.

Who actually makes marriage happen?  Or, who is the gatekeeper?

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

God performs marriage, through his servants.  If a man and a woman want to get married, and God doesn’t want them to, it won’t happen.

What to take from this?  I’m not sure.  But let’s get our aphorisms straight.

Quick Note

I had something of an epiphany last night, but I don’t have time to write about it extensively.

What I do have time for, though is this:  if husbands pray for help in loving their wives, and wives pray for help in respecting their husbands, only good can result.

 

Honor

One of my best friends passed away last week.

I’m twenty-nine years old, and up until last week, I was immortal.  I’m down to one grandparent, and a stepcousin committed suicide a few years ago, but a) my grandparents were old, and b) my stepcousin was kind of crazy.  We, you know, would never die.  Maybe in 40 years, but that would obviously never come (I mean, had it ever come before?).

He was good.  And interestingly, he was somewhat of an anomaly: he wasn’t, like, good after the fact, in a never-speak-ill-of-the-dead way, or a look-past-his-faults way.  He was smart, athletic, committed to his faith, funny, curious, loyal, diligent, and friendly.  He was an uncomplicatedly virtuous (in all senses of the word) man.

One foundational concept of this area of the internet is the mannerbund a group of men bound to each other by trust in (possibly loose) hierarchy and cooperation.  I have been lucky in that I seem to naturally form these; I have a tight group of male friends that has endured since high school (I talked to one of them today, and another the day before that), and one that formed in college.

My friend was in the college one.  Of course we all showed up to the funeral, and when I saw the rest of the group, I couldn’t hide my grief anymore, because how could I hide from them what we in particular shared?

Why did this hit us so hard?  It didn’t impact any of our careers.  None of us were dependent on him for anything.

What I miss from my friend is the opportunity to trust and be trusted, to serve and be served, to honor and be honored.  I’ve heard people say things like he’ll watch over us from heaven, but, like, I’m a big boy now, I can negotiate life OK without the “extra” divine help.  What I want is not so much help from him, but the opportunity to help him.

 


 

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis points out

the different senses of the possessive pronoun—the finely graded differences that run from “my boots” through “my dog”, “my servant”, “my wife”, “my father”, “my master” and “my country”, to “my God”.

Ownership, possession, hierarchy, and duty are complicated, messy topics, with spectra of meaning.  The modern world does not understand this—and neither does Hell(again from Letters):

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them. A self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. “To be” means “to be in competition”.

 

But readers of this blog likely have a more nuanced understanding than most.  Relationships that seem uncomplicatedly hierarchical (and by the Screwtape view, necessarily exploitative) can take on surprising qualities of love and self-sacrifice.

 

*(see footnote)

Service within a well-functioning mannerbund gets triple (at least!) value, because

  • It provides opportunity for meaningful action.  As the inimitable Tyler Durden says, “Self-improvement is masturbation.”  Self-anything is masturbation.  One of the qualities  of the image that men want to have of themselves is the ability and willingness to help their allies.  How to prove this without allies?
  •  Improving their welfare is a win for the group, which means it’s a win for you
  •  It gives them an opportunity to honor you, which, in a well-functioning group, they  want to do.  But because one can only honor the honorable, you have to provide them with opportunities.  See also.

What happens is that seemingly zero-sum interactions become positive-sum.  A braggart among strangers is an annoyance; a braggart among comrades merits a hearty toast.  This can even develop feedback loops where it is honorable to honor another, and all parties benefit (although).

Thus the sacred declarations of foiled intent: Aragorn’s assurance (see below), followed soon after by Boromir’s longing promise (“I would have followed you, my brother,”).

 

Boromir’s final moments provide us another window into how to love men.  What are Boromir’s last actions?  He reaches for his sword and declares his fealty.  He is, in other words, seeking honor.  And Aragorn grants it, helping him grasp his sword and accepting his (unfulfilled in life) loyalty.

What grieves me (although somewhat less so now, as I have pondered how to do what little I can after his death) is that I was deprived of the opportunity to honor my friend in life to the extent that he deserved.  I grieve not so much for him as for his honor—which would sound unloving except that I know that’s what he would grieve for.**

 

*(Honestly you could just watch this scene all day and get 90% of what’s good about reaction.  It’s all here: hierarchy, honor, compassion, male groups, loyalty, resolve rather than despair)

**to himself, not publicly—but I can grieve about it publicly.  One duty of men is to work on behalf of each other’s (Freudian) ids, because honor demands that they don’t do this themselves.  Thus the hallowed stations of wingman and best man: one to make the wedding happen, and the other to make the groom look good at it.