We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
While I feel guilt for my own bad actions or omissions, the kinds of things that are under my direct control, I do not feel guilt that my own life has been a comparatively fortunate one, probably more fortunate than that of the majority of mankind. On the contrary, I feel gratitude, or perhaps, more accurately, I should say gladness. I feel sorrow for the unfortunate, but not guilt toward them since I am not responsible for their sorrows. True, I did nothing to deserve having the opportunities that I have had, but I did nothing not to deserve them, either. I took the world as I found it and for me to feel guilty about my comparative good fortune would be a sign not of moral sensitivity or virtue, but of moral grandiosity. Moral grandiosity has probably done more harm in the world than indifference, inasmuch as it recognizes no limits to its power to bring about a supposedly better world.
Everyone has opportunities, but we all make choices. We can choose to go to the gym, eat right, finish school, etc. or not. It is true that tall good-looking people get more opportunities. Ok, whatever, I'm not tall and am average looks. I still wrangled a fantastic wife. Persistence and hard work can compensate for lots of disadvantages. Danny Devito is very short, fat, bald, and ugly but is rich and famous. Conversely, being a dick and lazy is not helpful. It is true that a few rich kids have a business daddy bought for them, but I don't know any such. Most white people are not just showered with riches--they have to work hard. Guys I know don't get to go clubbing every night--they are busy working.
Something that I wish were more widely known is that for young black males, if they did the things Amy Wax suggested and stayed out of jail they would double their incomes.
I've been blessed. I grew up fast enough to stay ahead of many (but not all!) of life's pitfalls, thanks be to God.
I think a lot now about the kids I grew up with--working class kids, like me. We had so much promise in the 50s and in the 60s too. But it was a slow decline after that: Fewer good paying jobs, increasing moral distractions: drugs, sex, and the suggestion that "you" were the most important thing in life.
Those kids are the deplorables now, dying off in such numbers that our national life expectancy numbers all falling--the "deaths of despair," completely ignored except to be characterized as both deplorable and privileged. My God, thank you for sparing me that.
Dalrymple's insight is powerful here. It is not an elevated morality, but a degraded one to embrace such guilt. It connects strongly with CS Lewis's "On The Dangers of National Repentance."
Assistant Village Idiot
Mr Dalyrumple is always worth reading, but his observation about the "selfie" beside a coffin brought back memories. Back in the day, our landlord died of a sudden heart attack while his wife was visiting family back "home". The subsequent ceremonies associated with the funeral were an eye opener, and not just because they came from a rather different culture. My spouse was asked to be the "official" photographer, and had to take a lot of photos which could be sent to the old country. The most startling were at the funeral home, where our landlady requested pictures of her beside her deceased husband in his coffin. Apparently these were necessary to "prove" to those in the old country that all honour was given to the deceased.
I worked on a bankruptcy case decades ago where a small claim--one of thousands--was in the name of a woman who allegedly had died. Her son wrote in to assert ownership of the claim by inheritance and, in response to a request for proof of death, provided a photo of his mother in her coffin. I found it macabre, but apparently in the country of origin it was an ordinary procedure.
I have been flailing about for a term to describe these people for a long time. I like "moral grandiosity", it just might do it for me. I think it captures the self aggrandizement, though maybe it doesn't incorporate the maudlin fixation as well as I'd like.
I personally don't embrace the notions of "collective guilt" or "inherited guilt", but it's a free country.
I just don't get the self flagellators in the 21st century USA. If this was 14th century Florence, I could at least understand they faced daily grief, loss, suffering, fear, guilt.... And, it's no wonder;
the plague must have seemed like the Apocalypse.
Before I retired, I was the compliance chick. In addition to hazmat, Reach and RoHS, I queried the supply chain for certifications that companies weren't using conflict minerals, and weren't supporting human trafficking, child labor, coerced labor, or hazardous labor. These unfair practices are commonplace in the third world and there are wink, wink, nod, nod ways to get around the laws/regulations, such as holding an employee's identification papers hostage or deceiving employees into signing onerous contracts etc. Our moral preeners seem fixated on the slavery of 150+ years ago. That's easy; they just have run their mouths. Doing something about dangerous and coerced labor in the here and now is inconvenient.