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March 29, 2004

Conspicuous Compassion

by Red Wolf

United Kingdom: One of the more annoying fundie traits that shits me no end, is their boundless ability to see someone in distress and use the bandaid of I'll pray for you to give themselves a warm and fuzzy feeling while not getting off their arses and actually helping. Alas it seems this problem is creeping into general society with a plague of conspicuous compassion.

According to a recent study, people who wear ribbons to show empathy with worthy causes and mourn in public for celebrities they have never met are part of a growing culture of ostentatious caring which is about feeling good, not doing good.

The report by thinktank Civitas argues that the trend towards public outpourings of compassion reveals not how altruistic society has become, but how selfish.
Author Patrick West said: We sport countless empathy ribbons, send flowers to recently deceased celebrities, weep in public over the deaths of murdered children, wear red noses for the starving in Africa, go on demonstrations to proclaim Drop the Debt or Not in My Name ... [but] they do not help the poor, diseased, dispossessed or bereaved. Our culture of ostentatious caring concerns, rather, projecting one's ego, and informing others what a deeply caring individual you are.
The study, Conspicuous Compassion, says this recreational grief has replaced institutions like the family, church and neighbourhood.
Mr West says: We live in a post-emotional age, one characterised by crocodile tears and manufactured emotion ... Mourning sickness is a religion for the lonely crowd that no longer subscribes to orthodox churches. Its flowers and teddies are its rites, its collective minutes' silence its liturgy and mass. But these bonds are phoney, ephemeral and cynical.
He says public displays of grief have spiralled out of control in the last decade.
The traditional two minutes' silence grew to three minutes for the victims of 9/11, five minutes for [murdered teenager] Milly Dowler, five minutes for the Ladbroke Grove crash victims and 10 minutes for an Asian beaten up by white men.
When a group called Hedgeline calls for a two-minute silence to remember all the 'victims' whose neighbours have grown towering hedges, we truly have reached the stage where this gesture has been emptied of meaning.

Mourning sickness feeds the feel-good factor - The Guardian, 23rd February 2004 (via The Green Man).

Posted in Love Thy Neighbour at 01:24. Last modified on September 28 2006 at 23:42.
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1: Posted by: PBen | March 29, 2004 9:43 PM

U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry cited a Bible verse Sunday to criticize leaders who have "faith but has no deeds."

A Bush campaign spokesman decried the use of religion in politics, was immediately hit by lightning and his ashes eaten by locusts.

Kerry's use of scripture in Missouri appearance angers Bush camp (Knight Ridder Washington Bureau).

2: Posted by: Feòrag | March 30, 2004 1:54 AM

Thanks for that, PBen. I just edited your comment to make the link live. The other Biblical quote appropriate to both this article, and the Bush camp, is my favourite Matthew 6:1, especially when you take it in context.

3: Posted by: Michael Lilly | March 30, 2004 2:28 AM

Interestingly enough, one could cite in addition to the above the Book of James, and chapters 2-4 of the First Letter of John (in the NT), as well as contemporaneous Rabbinical teaching in the time of Jesus as support for the previous comment. One could also think of Christ's condemnation of the Pharisee's practice of public prayer as hypocritical and whitewashed tombs. But that would apply to both Bush and to Kerry's party.

All in all, it is an example of a feel-good attitude. It feels good to display support without the inconvienence and discomfort of actually helping the person in their need.

4: Posted by: PBen | April 1, 2004 4:23 PM

Now let us turn to Hymn Number 666 and sing: "Jesus Loves Me But He Can't Stand You!"

5: Posted by: Michael Lilly | April 2, 2004 11:23 PM

actually Hymn #666 (in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982) is a paraphrase of Psalm 130, but thank you for trying.

6: Posted by: PBen | April 3, 2004 6:07 PM

Holy Crapola, Batman!!! I'm just totally surprised they'd actually allow a Hymn #666 anywhere near a church! Then again, I guess even The Beast likes music, eh?

Wax lyrical

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