The Smugly “Well-Behaved” and The League of the Irritatingly “Virtuous”

There is a portion of the populace that sails through traffic intersections while claiming that scarlet lights are merely shades of pink, and, as such, can be ignored. Some people think nothing of cutting in line at banks, supermarkets or at pharmacies. Worst, though, our culture suffers from individuals who encourage other citizens, on their behalf, to dodge the draft, to pay utility workers to bill their neighbors for their own fees, or to bomb our fair cities.
That last class of persons is, at best, sanctimonious and at worse, culpable of grave public transgressions. That last class believes either that their cohorts’ needs are meaningless or that their cohorts are so dim so as to perceive the culprits as well brought-up, selfish choices notwithstanding.
Some of us, interestingly enough, take objection to men and women who are self-appointed members of The League of the Irritatingly “Virtuous.” We know that there’s only superficial decency inherent in looking the other way when a denizen pays too little taxes, parks in a handicap space or enters a sanctuary without a head covering. Savvy persons realize that the selective enforcement of common law means that someone else, more exactingly someone “less fortunate” in protexia or less numb to cultural gall, will have to eventually compensate for the lapses caused by “privileged” persons’ double dealing.
What’s more, we critical thinkers deign to articulate that whereas such shenanigans can cost lives during crises (think gas mask shortages, shelters left inaccessible because of the unauthorized use of those places as businesses or as sublet residences, and the retention, by particular parties, only, of “explosive bearing protection devices,” i.e. and the enforcement of bizarre rules around who can possess weapons), even during ordinary spans, such goings on are socially expensive. In a word, duplicitous deeds eat up our personal and common resources.
There’s no innocence we can ascribe to the visiting bucharim, i.e. to the students, who joy ride in invented highway lanes or to the lacquered ladies who grant themselves the right to bypass protocol at Misrad HaPanim, at The Ministry of the Interior. Those chevarim, i.e. those comrades, who, regardless of geographical, religious, gender, ethnic, or other affiliations, cause the rest of us to have to outlay time, serenity and, perhaps, in the case of those amongst us who are parents, money (think of the possibility of damages wrought by young children, whom parents have to look after, while trying to steer, literally, safe from reckless drivers, or when having to wait in government buildings for abnormally long periods of time) are corrupt. Being smugly well-behaved does not mean being ethical.
Upfaulting, as in social one-upmanship, not as in geothermal rifts, takes many forms, including the making of one’s self-satisfaction so central to one’s choices that one is unable or unwilling to take into consideration the impact of one’s actions on others. Even in desolate corners, where the banging of garbage cans, might, at most, upset dumpster cats, or even under the “propriety,” i.e. under the agency of titles such as “minister,” “judge,” “professor,” “doctor,” “police commander,” and more, such ways of being present in the world are unconscionable.
Better to be derided as the beggar who helps the literally blind across the street, as the low level manager who remembers to open the door for the office’s administrative assistant, or as the junior cook who separates out, from a restaurant’s waste, food which is acceptable for a soup kitchen, than to be “immortalized” as a diva, as a linchpin or as a Mafioso. Fires, like crimes against our fellows, blaze but temporarily. The destruction they bring, however, can last for a long count.
In simple words, our civilization would be eminently improved if enough of us chose to consider the ramifications of our dealings on the lives of other folk, instead of forging ahead with behaviors that are easiest, cheapest, or most glittery. One does not have to morph into a folk hero or even to become a spandex-covered, waterproof cape-wearing champion in order to improve a corner of the universe. One doesn’t even have to be nice. All that we need to do is to abstain from actions that have the potential to harm others.
If you’re in a pulmonary ward in a hospital, quash your cigarette. If you know that by buying up more than your share of loss leader bubble gum means that the large family next door will get none at that price, buy the prescribed quantity. Tie your garbage back so its contents don’t blow onto your neighbor’s porch. Pick up after your pooch. Stop voting for politicos who give away our land.