For all my life, I have completely abstained from alcohol, recreational drugs, tobacco, sex, pornography, and anything like it. This in one of the most vice-ridden cities that lacks the reputation for being one: Charleston, South Carolina. In a society whose statistics show ever less vice, Charleston seems to maintain a very high level. For those familiar with the disgusting history of the city, this is nothing new. Charleston was long held to be an eastern New Orleans by those in the region with the major exception of being more shamelessly hypocritical in pretending to be wholesome Southerners while being the opposite. With the influx of transplants, many things in the city have changed but the vice has not. In a world drunk on the haze of a raving nightlife beneath the dumb and libertarian approaches of the social and institutional authorities who are too incompetent to intervene scientifically and mostly do nothing except occasionally send the police in, it is important that there be angels watching over the scene.
I have been to a few parties and otherwise intervened in ways that showed positive influence on my peers. When their lack of studying has led to a desperation for homework help, I invariably come to their aid as fast as possible and get them through whatever crisis they’re in every time. When a girl was drunk and in danger, I escorted her to safety. When a drunk girl left her phone in an Uber I hadn’t even taken, I managed to get the phone back. When I talk to them about their exes, I implore them to forgive. When they talk about their future careers, I implore them to choose an altruistic vocation. I don’t morally condescend to them, I keep a cool attitude, and I let them know that I am at their service should they ever need it. The sad thing is, in the chemical ooze and damp fog of the depths of the dark enchanted forest that is the interior of Charleston, the children scarcely, if ever, see love.
There are no loving influences. To their side is lust and above is the metaphorical whip of incompetent authority. The authority so afraid of liability, they default to a Rawlsian minimalist approach of bureaucratic greyness, afraid that the expression of human affection would violate the principles of liberalism, which, so engrained in our case law precedents, has engendered a fear of any salience from the callous nonchalance of monotone impartiality. The authorities have counselling services and medical clinics where professionals dole out, to their best ability, the shallow treatments for psychological and physical ailments that mostly require more macro environmental changes and cannot be cured with the limited reach of acute therapy. I don’t mean to sound self-praising but it feels as though there are few other people on the streets of this unfair city that are trying to shine light in the darkness.
Between the cocaine, the sexual assault, the STDs, the alcoholism, the feeble ignorance of basic matters of civicism and culture, the rampant and petty hatreds expressed over childish and asinine disputes, there is no expectation that such matters could ever be addressed. How does one intervene? That is a question the incompetent guardians of this hamlet have wrestled with and failed to answer. In their minds they ponder, what policies could be used to affect what is behavior that must be tolerated in an open society? The answer is that it is less a matter of policy and more a matter of disposition. Courage, humility, honor, self-discipline, science, sophistication, and, of course, love. I include science and sophistication because they don’t know how to design PSAs that don’t sound like a very lame Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” campaign. I’m talking about Charleston, generally, but the College of Charleston, where I go, specifically. The administration comes across like the adults on Charlie Brown which not only sounds stupid, itself, but imparts stupidity on its audience. It turns Ferris Bueller into Kim Kardashian. On a tangent, we live in a culture where the edge and style of what is considered cool has gotten a lobotomy and been dulled to a tragic level.
I resist that dulling and maintain an anachronistic coolness where intelligence and humanity are considered desirable. And with that disposition, I do my best to be an angel in the night. Where there is no love or moral courage, I run into the fire and try to heave out the bloodied and whimpering victims of the blaze. In a world devoid of honor, I try my best to keep it. Tragically, many of my fellow politicos are Rawlsian or postmodernist and, morally, don’t believe in any of the things I mentioned. Yet, I resist postmodernism and Rawls, as well. We live in a Rawlsian society where such things usually go unappreciated, where there is no honor and running into that metaphorical fire is almost unnoticed. However, I hope that my actions and being has shone a lasting influence and has moved, however much, the society in a positive direction. That, in addition to the small victories of each individual episode. I pray that this city and this species are enlightened by the love I have shown.