Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sneering At Virtue

Occasionally I get great inspiration by reading “Thought Tools” presented by this biblically inspired man Rabbi Daniel Lapin. With permission I am reprinting his latest commentary which I think is very timely and something that deserves our immediate attention in the dark days ahead.

                                              Sneering At Virtue

Here is one of the most important lessons to teach your children:  Wrongdoers detest those who don't join in.  It's also not a bad lesson for you to understand and absorb if you want a clear picture of the behind-the-scenes politics in your place of business.  It is just as necessary in order to understand how power and money have corrupted much of our political process.  

More than one dedicated and idealistic candidate has won election promising to become a representative of the people.  Finding his place in the corridors of power, he discovers to his dismay that many of his colleagues are there to feather their nests.  What is more, he is quickly made to understand that if he holds himself aloof and refrains from participation in the plunder he will never receive invitations to the best parties. More seriously, he will be overlooked for committee appointments. There are no easy ways to deal with this reality, leading many earnest and well-intentioned people to succumb to the enticements of power.  It is very difficult to live with one's virtue being mocked.

Though far less prevalent in the private sector, there are certainly bad players who create a toxic culture of exploiting the company, other associates, or their customers.  This puts the "good guy" in a very tricky situation because wrongdoers detest those who don't join in.  As an associate with integrity you can't blend in.  However, if you don't do so, you will seldom be allowed to go about your business peacefully.  Those up to their necks in the toxic culture will imagine or feel your unspoken contempt and will strive to undermine you.  There is usually little option but to move departments or jobs. Living with those who sneer at one's virtue is painful.

This is particularly hard for children in school, since they seldom have options for changing their social circles.  The serious and moral student is often derailed by the taunts of his friends who loathe his taking the high road.

There is no simple solution or tidy little trick for coping with hatred of virtue.  In the Bible, one prophet after another encountered the hostility of the population as he not only refrained from joining in the general decadence but railed against it.  Not surprisingly the prophets' lives were often imperiled by the virtue they preached.

Therefore, so says the Lord of Hosts concerning the men of Anathoth, who seek your (Jeremiah's)  life, saying, "If you do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, then you will not die by our hand." (Jeremiah 11:21)

This hatred of virtue is what lies behind two millennia of Jew hatred.  Not to say that every Jew is virtuous, of course. But the substance of a basic moral code for humanity entered the world when God gave His message for mankind to Moses on Mt Sinai. Many resent it.  Were there no Abraham and no Moses, there'd be no shared description of morality.  Anti-Semitism merely echoes the world's dismay at God's message.

People sometimes say that no Godly source of morality is needed since all humans have a deep internal sense of right and wrong.  Would that it were so. If it were, Jean Jacques Rousseau's ignorant theory of the noble savage would be true. Cannibalism would never have occurred in precolonial Africa.  Hideous tortures inflicted by Indians, native to both North and South America upon their own kind would never have taken place. No, without God's message of morality, a standard of morality wouldn't exist.  For many people, that would have been a preferable outcome.  They (and often they are Jewish themselves) hate the Jews for originally bringing virtue into the world.

Inoculating your children can best be achieved by teaching them of this phenomenon.  Whatever the threat, it is always diminished by familiarity.  The unknown is far scarier than the known.  Let them know long before they encounter it that it those who do wrong try and involve others while despising and disparaging those who don't join in.  There is no live-and-let-live when evil hates virtue. The prototype for this eternal truth appears early in Genesis. Noah didn't simply build an ark, he built it with his sons while facing threats and jeers from his wrong-doing neighbors.

       American Alliance of Jews & Christians