On Virtue (and Righteousness) “Signalling”

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila


There’s a new meme floating around the ether: “virtue signalling,” i.e., actions that signal to observers (or readers, as virtue signals are mostly “likes” or approving “tweets” on social media) that the person affirming the cause celebre is in solidarity with the virtuous, down with the struggle–by the click of a mouse in the comfort of one’s basement. It is most often to show support for certain political opinions and social causes.

Easy virtue, say some. “Slacktivism,” say others.

Nothing like activism in the sixties when speaking truth to the powerful Military Industrial Complex or against Jim Crow laws could land one bloody on the street, in jail, or worse.

Nothing like the protests of a few centuries ago when revolutionaries, armed with little more than “a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” still mutually pledged to each other their “Lives…Fortunes and…sacred Honor” (many in reality sacrificing same), their successful struggles enabling us, even today, to continue our own.

Of course, hashtagging and “liking” resistance to oppression can be a good thing, especially in an era when the power and influence of social media is a new force to be reckoned with.

Anybody with a computer and Internet access now has a voice–and millions across the globe are listening, texting, and responding. No more opinion–or media–bottleneck. At least while the Internet is still relatively unregulated. (To see if it still is, click on the last word in the previous sentence for the source of the news about the potential Internet clamp-down: is the article at its source–B r e i t b a r t–still available?)

On the other hand, note still other critics, with the tap of a finger one can signal to hundreds, thousands, millions even, one’s concern over this, that, or the other cause without writing a check, joining the crowd on the street, and/or risking one’s life, fortune, and sacred honor…

Of course, there is that pesky little reality that nobody is ever really “alone” in the basement–or anywhere else we believe we are still free to assemble and to speak.

There are those, it has been leaked, on the other side of the looking screen who are mining our clicks for their own causes not to mention caching our opinions for cash. LOTS of cash.

And so maybe in the mix of altruism and (thumbs-up) alerts there is just a wee bit of fear, too…?

Ever heard of “black lists” (and “red” and “blue” lists)?

Ever heard of “the matrix”–the movie, too?

So is there any escaping the Borg–virtual or real?

(Sound of tinfoil crinkling?)


I once heard it said that the Big Bang Theory (a sort of compromise between the Creation Story and the Evolution Theory) can be described thus:

First, there was nothing.

Then, it exploded.

But what has all this got to do with virtue and/or righteousness signalling?

Consider, if you will:

IF one’s mind has not yet been gathered into a pro-evolution/anti-creationist group-think, logic still leads to a beginning of all things.

IF critical thinking is not hindered by the hive mind, one might ponder what “match” ignited an electric universe? Or, if you like, what more powerful gravitational force organized–faster than the speed of light–all the heavenly bodies attracted to each other at their precise longitudes and latitudes so they would not hurl off into oblivion?

And when it comes to “virtue” and “righteousness,” this thought might surface in a hopefully as yet unfettered imagination, a thought perhaps most revolutionary of all:

Is there also a source, a beginning, of all virtue and righteousness?

A “real” “good”? 


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Ever consider Jesus: the original “righteousness signal,” if you will?

Who continues to set the oppressed free?

Just a thought…


Side Notes:

  • Why is it that books with words like John 1:1-5 are often the first on the burn-pile when some enemy of freedom takes control?
  • Why is it that despite the power of evil to rape, pillage, and plunder seemingly with impunity; why is it with all this power in the hands of  evil, good still prevails when free-thinkers–and believers–take action?


May I gently encourage you to unplug the (electronic) minders today for a little while? To walk away from the hive for a bit of respite? To resist group-think and turn your back on the Borg for just a few?

There’s a truly braver, newer world “out there,” “in here,” and “up there.”

See what you think.


This entry was posted in Commentaries, Devotionals, most recent posts, On Free Will and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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