Friday 27 March 2020

The value-inversion of Fear into Virtue

Returning from my short period of permitted outdoor exercise; came to mind the following song from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers.  

"In Enterprise of Martial Kind" Song - Duke of Plaza-Toro with Duchess, Casilda and Luiz

DUKE - First verse

In enterprise of martial kind,
When there was any fighting,
He led his regiment from behind--
He found it less exciting.
But when away his regiment ran,
His place was at the fore, O--
That celebrated,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!


In the first and foremost flight, ha, ha!
You always found that knight, ha, ha!
That celebrated,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

DUKE - Second verse

When, to evade Destruction's hand,
To hide they all proceeded,
No soldier in that gallant band
Hid half as well as he did.
He lay concealed throughout the war,
And so preserved his gore, O!
That unaffected,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!


In every doughty deed, ha, ha!
He always took the lead, ha, ha!
That unaffected,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

DUKE - Third verse

When told that they would all be shot
Unless they left the service,
That hero hesitated not,
So marvellous his nerve is.
He sent his resignation in,
The first of all his corps, O!
That very knowing,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!


To men of grosser clay, ha, ha!
He always showed the way, ha, ha!
That very knowing,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

WS Gilbert is second only to Shakespeare as a source of wordly aphorisms - here is an example of why.

The second verse seems to describe the attitude of the general public of the world at this time (to evade Destruction's hand, To hide they all proceeded... He lay concealed throughout the war, And so preserved his gore); the third verse more specifically brings to mind the leadership of the major Christian churches (He sent his resignation in, The first of all his corps, O!)

As Ghandi wisely said: The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is really fear." As 1 John says - fear is the opposite of Christian love: "Perfect love casteth out fear".

To be in a state of fear is to be in a state of sin.

To be rid of the damning effect of sin it must be acknowledged as a sin, and repented. That may seem like not-much-to-ask; but it does require faith in Jesus.

What instead I perceive rampant is unacknowledged and denied - instead rationalised - fear; I see unrepented - but instead self-justified, advocated and amplified - fear.

Consequently, we see value inversion and the widespread, aggressive promotion of fear as a virtue! The public are being encouraged to celebrate their lack of courage - e.g. by joining-in propitiatory rituals of submission to secular authorities.

Since fear is indeed a sin; we should not be surprised that it feeds upon itself, and leads to other sins - and (because unacknowledged and unrepented) has a generally corrupting effect.

You can see it in people's faces, in their eyes (windows to the soul); and you can apparently see this at a glance, almost instantly - the division of the population into a large majority following the fear-embracing sinful strategies of Satan; and the small minority on the side of God, creation and the primacy of love.

You can see, hear or read in a few moments which side people have taken in this spiritual war.


S. F. Griffin said...

"Returning from my short period of permitted outdoor exercise"

Did you go out before or after the clocks had struck thirteen?

Bruce Charlton said...

SFG - i had forgotten about that aspect of 1984. Well, 1984 has already happened - so the answer would be 'after'.

Francis Berger said...

Good insight. Fear really has become a moral imperative, hasn't it? It is now a social obligation - one that is being aggressively encouraged everywhere. Goodness only knows why. Perhaps it has something to do with manipulation and mind control? At the core, it reveals the stuff most modern people are made of - big, oozing blobs of character failure.

What I'm particularly relishing now are all the reports of celebs and politicians being diagnosed with the dreaded birdemic virus. I mean if the princes and prime ministers aren't safe, what chance do we have?! Screeee!

The promotion and overpromotion of negative emotions is one of evil's tactics. It literally feeds off the fear while the same fear consumes it grips. Prolonged states of fear (and other negative emotions) also wreak havoc on an individual's health and probably compromises the immune system in some way - which is the last thing anyone would want in this "terrifying" plague.

What I find really amusing is the scorn and contempt showered upon those who have the audacity to remain calm. There's something wrong with you if you're not scared. Not freaking out about the birdemic has been equated with psychopathy!

We really are at the point. All traces of gray have vanished. And as strange as it sounds, I'm thankful for that.

John Douglas said...

FDR 1933 "....let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself..."

Your own first response to covid-19 was entirely justified as this Government guidance now makes perfectly clear -
"As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK."

Note the date: if the PM knew this, and he must have known it, why then did he place the entire country under 'house arrest' four days later? And why were greater powers given to the police yesterday?

Bruce Charlton said...


"why then did he place the entire country under 'house arrest' four days later? And why were greater powers given to the police yesterday?"

Because - It's Not About The Birdemic!

dearieme said...

@JD: come, come, the reclassification only says it's not a head-banger of an infection. It doesn't say that it's meek and mild.

If you've read your own link you know this already.

Of course it may prove to be m&m but that's a different point.

JWM said...

"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

"Temptation" always seems to sound like taking a big stiff drink, or giving the eye to the good looking wife of your neighbor.

There are many temptations other than Lust and Gluttony.


Jacob Gittes said...

Bruce and friends:
It's really quite amazing. I work for a small city in the USA. I am a government official, in other words. I am literally the ONLY one advocating NOT shutting down all local businesses and living in fear.
One other guy is sympathetic, but he dare not speak with me.

I even went the other way yesterday, and told the city administrator that if he really is so worried that he wants people to work remotely, then he should mandate that those who still come to the office must wear a mask. But he wouldn't support that either, because "the media" said that masks are not effective!

I stated that it seems odd that doctors and nurses use personal protective gear if it is not effective... people just stared.

So even when I advocate the opposite approach of pretending to be concerned by advocating MORE protection, not one person supported me.

Which made me conclude this: the main fear people have is GOING AGAINST what they are TOLD to believe and do. Even when the step I advocated for (wearing masks) would genuinely prevent some infections of some kind, they were fearful of supporting me.

The main fear now is to oppose any part of the official agenda or propaganda!
I have tried to, under the table so to speak, encourage local business owners to attend the city council meeting that is about to happen, where the council will approve the cowardly mayor's declaration of a state of emergency. I suspect no business owners will dare to stand up for themselves, even as they are being driven to bankruptcy.

I pray I am wrong.

I'm treating it all as a calm and fun "game" to see who, if anyone, has any access at all to a place of spiritual solidity and solidarity.

I have no expectations, so I won't be disappointed by any outcome.

My romantic interest, however, does seem to be responding positively to my newfound spiritual direction. And vice versa - she's amazing. I pray that we can continue on a path of spiritual convergence. Miracles are possible, I know.

Francis Berger said...

I'd like to add something to the conversation to balance out the mini-rant I posted earlier.

As John 1 says - fear is the opposite of Christian love: "Perfect love casteth out fear".

This reminded of a line of thinking I once engaged in about whether Jesus felt any fear in the days leading up to his crucifixion. I know what the Gospels say, but I was trying to think outside of that framework (as much as possible). I concluded Jesus may have been tempted to feel fear, but was ultimately able to reject this temptation out of love. His love of God was so well-aligned, it left no room for fear - just as John 1 says.

I mentioned this to a friend once. He responded with the following, "Jesus knew he would resurrect - that's why he felt no fear."

That helped put things in perspective for me. Serious Christians really have nothing to fear, in the same way Jesus had nothing to fear.

We are not sinless as Jesus was, but we are God's children. We may not always be able to resist fear. When it happens, we must catch ourselves, recognize fear as sin, and repent. But constant submission to fear - to say nothing of the panic currently gripping the world - indicates a lack of faith and, more significantly, a lack of love.

On a side note - the other side knows fear is a sin. It knows this perfectly well.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d Come come, why would it be necessary to put the world on house arrest under curfew if it wasnt very, Very, VERY dangerous and infective? That's certainly what the cringing masses believe.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - Great second comment. And needed - I've felt things hard today.

Jacob Gittes said...

Well, the answer to the question, "Will any business owners come to the city council meeting to defend their interests is:" No! Not one came.

William Wildblood said...

There is another subtle temptation to sin which is to have fear for others, one's children, for example. But even this shows a lack of trust in God. We can quite easily do everything we can to protect those we love while ultimately accepting the will of providence.

Though by quite easily I mean it is quite within our power which is not the same thing.

Hrothgar said...

C.S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man contains some valuable insights, for those who are interested, into the process by which this type of value inversion is inculcated in the human psyche. If our values, and consequently our sense of what is and is not moral (as most people have now been sucessfully trained to believe)ultimately rest purely on the strength of our personal feelings, as he contended must happen in a society that has rejected any notion of transcendent or objective value value, it is very easy for our cynical "governors" to distort those values into whatever they want them to be.

They need simply to manipulate the feelings from which most believe their values ought to derive, through tried and tested propagandistic methods (though, it must be said, they never seem to have attempted such an impudent hoax on such a massive scale before). Values will go wherever feelings lead them, due to being themselves derivative. That certainly seems to be what has happened here.

Jake - I don't know whether your story saddened or amused me more - probably both to a similar degree. Unfortunately the True Believers in this cultish fraud are generally immune to any kind of reason. As alluded to above, they did not actually reason themselves into this state, and so are probably self-immunized against being reasoned out of it by anyone, no matter how sound the argument. I have had one or two experiences of this kind myself lately, and would have become very frustrated by the slippery obduracy with which the Birdemicists will hold to an utterly irrational position, had I really expected reason to work. Probably nothing will shake many out it, besides them becoming open to receive some kind of Grace, or their present fears being overtaken by greater or more immediate fears.

I'll just add that in my experience those women who are actually worth having tend to put an extremely high value on independent strength of character in a mate or potential mate - this preference is one of the most reliable ways to distinguish them from those are not worth having, in fact - so your stand on this will most likely boost your romantic prospects considerably, even if not taken for this reason!

Adil said...

In these cases it helps to remember that humanity is insane and has been for some time now. And I mean like terminally ill and psychologically divorced from reality as a social organism, which it quite isn't able to see itself. In that way you can look it like a doctor who pities his patient rather than take the world seriously and become annoyed by all its faults.

Jared said...

I totally agree that fear is what needs to be avoided.
I thought the Duke of Plaza Toro poem was hilarious.
Super sad that inability to fear the coronavirus is seen as psychopathic.
Great that Christ provides us hope through all these times.