Flat White

Covid confusion and the vagaries of values

17 January 2021

12:24 PM

17 January 2021

12:24 PM

The covid wars continue unabated, with border closures mid-flight and arguments about whether a cluster is the same as a hotspot? For some people, three is a cluster. Has any cricket commentator ever referred to the “cluster” of stumps behind the batter? A new more virulent strain arrives, and suddenly masks are a good thing but then again…. maybe not.

Confusion and turmoil reign supreme; all this depends on what state we’re in, or what part of that state — or when. And now the imminent arrival of a vaccine gives us all something else to fight about. Which one to use, if at all, and who goes first? What’s more important, our health or our businesses? 

Whatever happened to virtue? Once upon a time, virtues (or lack of them) were the defining elements of one’s character. Things like courage, perseverance, truthfulness, moderation and responsibility were the hallmarks of a virtuous person. 

The good thing about virtues was that pretty much everyone agreed that they were the way to go, as the building blocks of sensible decision making.  

This universal acceptance of virtues contributed greatly to social cohesion, and we could certainly do with them now. 

Unfortunately, virtues seem to be going out of fashion, with even responsibility just hanging by a thread. 

Values are all the rage these days, probably because they can be dressed up to look all warm and fuzzy. Don’t get me wrong, values can be worthwhile but the problem is everyone has them. There are quite literally thousands of them from which individuals, corporations, institutions and governments can choose. One of the really attractive things about values is that, being aspirational, you can change them every day, just like your socks and undies.  

If I may, ever so slightly, paraphrase Groucho Marx; “These are my values, if you don’t like them, well, I have others.”  

In actual fact, some virtues are still around but they are tucked away under the heading of “core values”. The word virtue seems to be a bit churchy and unfashionable and somehow smacks of preaching. The invention of the phrase “virtue signalling” as an inappropriate pejorative for political correctness has probably sounded the death knell of the word “virtue” once and for all. 

The vagaries of the various Premiers and Chief Ministers and their health advisers, amid a myriad of ever-changing values, surely highlights the potential for a confused society so dependent on this modern way of thinking.   

Peter Scammell blogs at Dinosaur Diary.


Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments