I used to be such a nice little boy. Of course at the time Diefenbaker and Eisenhower were the leaders of Canada and the USA respectively and virtue was worth something.
You had to work pretty hard to be good in those days. I wasn’t allowed to smoke marijuana or crack cocaine and heroin was frowned on at the Boy Scouts. I was not allowed to steal mobile phones or cars and gang warfare was restricted to Chicago where it could be done by professionals.
Don’t get me wrong – being virtuous was not without its rewards – the chiefest being itself. That’s what they told us, anyway, and it probably saved a lot of money for our parents. Still, there was the occasional model airplane or candy bar in the offing so it paid to be nice. Kids who were virtuous got bibles to tell them they would be damned anyway and the occasional book about missionaries who were piously slaughtered. I could hardly wait to grow up and run as far away from the place as I could get.
Well, I did grow up and I ran to Australia – jut about at the time when virtue was being taken off the shelves as unsalable. I missed the early Swinging Sixties and was a disciplined student during the latter part of the decade. As a result I never learned to swing. I had to make do with marriage and a settled life – in retrospect it seems to have been a good idea as I have not been confined to an institution or ruined, and most of my swinging parts still swing.
I do run foul of the Visibly Virtuous these days but it is less of a concern than I thought it would be. Television-virtue is as short-lived as any other entertainment on that medium – two seasons or less sees most people lose concentration on the leaders or movements that march across the screen. They only really revive in interest when the principals of whatever they are stand exposed by the hopefuls of the next cultural movement. And it’s movement after movement – rather like digestion, but on a less appetising scale.
One thing I’ve learned with social movements – never look in the pan. Press the button and wash your hands and just get on with it.