Truly Advanced Societies Have Conventions, Not Endless Laws
AP Photo/Steve Helber
Truly Advanced Societies Have Conventions, Not Endless Laws
AP Photo/Steve Helber
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I don’t know Ginnie Smith. She left a note on my car the other day to tell me she bumped into it and that if I thought there was any damage to call her. She left her number. I called her and told her all was well (the scratch was hardly noticeable) and thanked her for reaching out. The note reminded me of the Richmond, Virginia I used to know and love, but am not sure still exists.

One consequence of the hurricanes we experienced in Richmond in 2003 and 2011 made me chuckle. With no electricity, none of the stop lights worked, yet I noticed that traffic actually moved smoother than it did when the stop lights regulated traffic. This was due to “convention.” In the South, there is no greater civic duty than to be polite and to “use your manners.” People took turns, waived and smiled at each other.

Conventions are social norms that have developed over time because they provide strengthening values to  societal order. When I stand up when a lady walks into the room, it is an expression of respect for women and the vital roles they play.  Being punctual signals that you value the person you are meeting. Saying “yes m’am” to the 20 year old waitress tells her that she is respected as an individual, one of God’s own and her societal worth is not based on having a lofty socio-economic position. Of all the conventions we have, truth telling is the most honored.  

Honesty and trust are the joists and beams that support the happy functionings of society. Business cannot operate without this framework. There have always been hucksters, charlatans and snake oil salesmen, but business generally operates smoothly because there is trust among participants.  Our economy operates under a system of voluntary transactions. Without a foundation of honest dealings, there would be little difference between our economy and the corrupt oligarchical business climates of Ukraine and Russia.  We share a common ethos of healthy competition, good sportsmanship and above all an expectation of honest dealings. But is this world slipping away from us? 

To me, the “Summer of Love,” when Left wing mayors allowed their surrogate armies of hate filled punks to tear down monuments, destroy private property and assault police officers was a turning point. The message to all the indoctrinated wokesters was and still is “you  have no personal responsibility, you are entitled to feel entitled and your simmering hatred for those who you are jealous of is a virtue.” Furthermore, “everything you don’t like about yourself is the fault of someone else. You are a victim. You have no duty to fix the things in your life that you dislike. You do not have to live by the same rules as those you hate.”

All this makes me worry that there are few Ginnie Smiths among the “woke” generation or any others who claim victim status. I can’t imagine any of the punks I witnessed rioting or the Karens who supported them on social media doing a “Ginnie Smith.” If university presidents and leftist politicians excuse the destruction of private property, why shouldn’t one have the right to damage another’s car?  The destructive nature of woke ideology reverberates towards many unintended consequences.

The University of Virginia has (had) the oldest student run honor system in the country. Quite simply, a single incident of lying, cheating or stealing requires the immediate removal from the University.   The students who founded the honor system recognized that to have a functioning community, there must above all else be honesty. If one violates this trust, one contaminates the whole community. I remember going through a week-long orientation my first year, all about the honor system and what it expected of us. I was proud to be a part of this community and still to this day am proud of being associated with those who adhere to these principles.

When I first entered the working world, there was universal veneration of the Virginia Military Institute. In business, one could always trust the word of a VMI man. Their honor code was legendary.  A violator was “drummed out” in front of the whole corps in the middle of the night. As he walked past on his way out of the community of honor, the perp was ceremoniously stripped of his insignia of rank, and the “Keydets” would turn their back on the one who violated their trust and dishonored the Institute.

The Honor System at the University of Virginia is being dismantled by a hostile regime. It has been diminished at VMI. Under the radical Neo-Marxist leadership of president Jim Ryan at Virginia, convention is a patriarchal system of oppression. He has corrupted the entire school with his woke advocacy of institutional victimhood. The school founded by Thomas Jefferson indoctrinates its students to not think, but to accept all elements of radical “equality of results” woke-ism. The result, “it’s ok to lie, cheat or steal because we are victims, we have no personal responsibility. Our hate trumps your convention and your rules.” What happens at the university level eventually creeps out and corrupts the political world.

In Washington, there has never been more corruption and incompetence than there is now. Attached is a link to 168  Rob Is Right podcasts. Watch them all and I will send you a free T shirt. You will have a PHD in common sense and an understanding of how many dirty rotten loathsome flim-flam pettifogging scallywags we have among our political class. Speaking of dirty rotten loathsome flim-flam pettifogging scallywags, the Biden Administration has just created a Board of Disinformation under the Homeland Security Agency.  This is a George Orwell, 1984, Ministry of Truth designed to spread disinformation (aka lies) and to squash any dissent of the Administration’s dystopian policies.  It in and of itself is a monstrous lie. The way to discern truth is through unlimited inquiry and the absolute freedom to express one’s findings and opinions.   

Having different opinions is not lying. Disagreeing over facts is not lying. Lying, and the most egregious kind of lying, is lying with no pangs of consciousness to achieve a self-enriching end. See Hillary Clinton. The biggest and most dangerous liars are those who thirst for power and money. See Hillary Clinton again. Yet, the solution to liars is not Orwellian control of speech, but  unrestricted and absolute free speech by free people who recognize the importance of living in a community of trust.

How ironic that the University of Virginia’s founder was Thomas Jefferson, the world’s foremost apostle of free speech and honesty in government. For it was Jefferson who said: “Honesty is the first chapter in the Book of Wisdom. Let it be our endeavor to merit the character of a just nation.” 

I don’t point out problems without offering solutions. I am a very wise man and as such, I have all the answers to the world’s problems (I would make a great benevolent dictator). Here goes: Once again, we look to convention and to a time when deceitful and harmful liars were put in their place with no need for government tribunals, lawyers or expense to the state.  We need to return to the time-honored practice of dueling. If some scumbag like Adam Schiff fabricates a scheme to destroy one’s personal reputation, he can either retract his lies or defend them on the field of honor at 20 paces. Problem solved. You’re welcome. What else do you want me to fix? 

Robert C. Smith is Managing Partner of Chartwell Capital Advisors and likes to opine on the Rob Is Right Podcast and Webpage.

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