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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Me? Too hard on social workers?

A reader writes to ask if I am not being too hard on social workers, when I write,

Don't be fooled by the absence of jackboots and rigid salutes. When soldiers introduce fascism, it comes in battledress, with guns. When social workers introduce it, it comes in claims about hurt feelings, with crippling fines, imposed speech bans, and forced reeducation.
The reader knows many social workers who are kind and caring.

I have no doubt of that. So do I.

It is important to remember, however, that compassion is not a virtue in and of itself. That is a major misunderstanding of our times and has led to much grief. So I replied,

... social workers both can be and have been agents of much wrong, in direct proportion to the amount of good they can do.

It is no accident; there is a divine economy in it.

If you doubt the fact base of what I am saying, read up on the eugenics movement. Social workers were front and centre in forced sterilization and worse.

You see, the essential difficulty is that "caring" a lot can lead to good or bad actions.

In Canada today, "caring" people want to make themselves the judges of both a clergyman's sermons and a comedian's jokes - and stop both if they feel that someone, somewhere has been (or might be) hurt by them.

In other words, caring (traditionally, compassion) requires discipline like any other emotion. It is not, in principle, a virtue. It becomes part of the pursuit of virtue when guided by the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude).

So far, the human rights commissions have failed abysmally in the first three of these four virtues. That is, I am afraid, what happens when a society is unloosed from its Christian moorings without adopting any other classical tradition that enables people to check their bearings.
Notice, I didn't say "I'm here to help." I am not. I am stating some facts that bear thinking about.

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