I have recently become aware of a social phenomenon that has been seen in literature, on-screen, and in my life–the walking, talking conscience. I am referring to the person who always sees the need to act as others consciences and oftentimes squeal if they feel some ‘rule’ has been broken.
I first became aware of this irksome creature while watching House. He is usually surrounded by people feeling the need to act as his moral compass–usually, they are female. About the same time, I was reading Anne Rice’s fourth book in her Vampire Chronicles. Lestat is begging Lewis to make him a vampire once again and Lewis refuses to do so on the basis of some moral obligation to himself. I started trying to pick out the other national debt relief do-gooders of literature and screen: Hermione of Harry Potter, Rosalie of Twilight, Mary Bennett of Pride and Prejudice, and Jiminy Cricket of Pinocchio. These are usually not characters we love a great deal of the time. Oftentimes, they can be downright irritating. Remember when Hermione kept nagging Harry about the textbook of the Half Blood Prince? It doesn’t matter that she was right, she was standing in the way of a sweet situation…morality has a tendency to do that
I realized this inner voice of decency was ubiquitous in literal realms and no doubt necessary to create the conflict any good plot thrives on. Then I woke up today and found someone had taken issue with something I had posted on Facebook the day before. I had linked to something that said the kids from Jersey Shore are harsh reminders as to why contraception should be legal. Near as I can tell, anybody with an intellect above that of a turnip agrees that Jersey Shore is what’s wrong with the world right now. I got a response about how they’re people too and deserve to live as much as anyone. What?! This is a middle-aged woman who has likely never seen the show. She has no idea how bad it is. Why do I? Because I watch Beavis and Butthead who are always poking fun at these obnoxiously vapid, plastic-people. (My husband wrote an interesting article for Yahoo! on this subject).
This is not the first time she has vomited her morality all over me and my wall. I noticed somebody had ‘Liked’ her comment and it was the other person who is always over-moralizing. I realized, then and there, that it is not just literature and screen who have saintly censors, but life does too. Growing up a Christian, I always marveled at the people who would run to the spiritual leaders for every slight offense performed by another. I always thought it was a need these people had to make themselves look more pious. But now I realize there are actually people out there who are profoundly affected by perceived injustices or unfair criticisms. I have seen these people get positively irate when others don’t take the same offense as they. It seems such a life would be exhausting and I wonder at their mental health.
My first thought was to block the ethical offenders so I didn’t have to put up with their constant moralizing. Then I wondered if my life didn’t need the occasional shot of virtue to remind me when I am overstepping the line. I named this blog Forsaking Restraint because I was trying to step into a place of freedom, peppered with a tad of vice. I’ve come a long way baby, and now I might just need to be reminded why civilization exists.