A few years ago I was driving a rural road and in the sweep of a turn came upon a turtle that looked the size of a sheep dog lumbering serenely along the middle lines. Acting with prompt imbecility, I parked on the shoulder and sprinted out with the intent of spiriting the great beast across before it could send a semi careening into the ditch. Well, on the off-chance you’ve never moved an infuriated 60lb snapping turtle, I’ll just say from experience it’s a chore better left to truck bumpers. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what came to a screaming stop in the curve just feet away from one highly agitated animal and its human rickshaw. The other driver could hardly register what he was seeing. Grateful that my brain matter wasn’t now enjoying the sunlight, I sheepishly waddled my cargo the last few feet as it enthusiastically attempted to relieve me of a finger. Finally we reached grassy sanctuary and parted with a fulsome “fuck you.”
You would think after this I felt quite foolish. As if the material risk of orphaning my children wasn’t adequate exchange for the feel-goods of highway conservation. And you’d be right. Though by the time of arriving home I had completely forgotten about checking mortician ratings on Yelp, and was feeling quite a smug satisafaction. Good had been done.
To a puzzled wife I inquired, Did YOU save a resentful reptile today? I didn’t think so. Now stop thinking only of yourself and come freshen my drink, s’il vous plait.
All of which may or may not hold any relevance to the brief observation that follows.
There is a perpetual yearning for redemption in the Western soul. And any ambitious dissident movement must contemplate its effects and how to reproduce the frisson that even solitary Acts of Goodness evoke. This need to cosmically do good–while sneering at those ostensibly doing less so–is one many alt-righters are probably too prone to dismiss for its eye-rolling vanity. Though it also exists in forms purer than just as a means of status-signaling. For millions, it is entirely gratuitous.
Feeding Africans is a good. Inviting a bedraggled third-world into your delicate ecosystem is a good. As is slaying dragons outside the country and nurturing those within it. For a great many, the value of good-doing lies completely outside its results. A distinction that in many ways forms the contour between a liberal mind, and one of bigotry, ignorance, and hatred. Or alternatively, one where virtue overlaps with utility and altruism lives close to home.
And it is that concluding sentence which will inform future Western morality…or the turtles will all come home to roost.