Qualified well wishes aren’t well wishes and, in this case, aren’t human

There are times when most of us realise that the small things really don’t matter all that much. We seem to be in such times. With the threat of death looming, even as our Prime Minister is in intensive care, most recognise that now is not the time for tribal politics.

Sadly, there are those who simply don’t get it. Of course, there are the crass trolls who gladly wish the Prime Minister dead. I suspect most of these people don’t really even mean what they are saying. Instead, they are – like most trolls – just looking for a reaction.

But there are some who do, on some level, mean what they say. They aren’t just trolling, they are just so embedded in tribal politics that the thought of “Tory scum” dying is, to them, simply their just deserts. The Conservative Party are not just politicians with a different view of how to make the best of all possible worlds, they are evil sociopaths bent only on serving their cabal of vested interests. Whilst there are no doubt such people within the party (just as there are those in other parties serving different, but no less personal, vested interests), I suspect across all the parties, the overwhelming majority have simply jumped into the vehicle they believe best serves their view of how the best of all possible worlds may be achieved. We may, of course, disagree but that doesn’t make them (or us) evil (in the relative and subjective human sense) a priori.

Nonetheless, most are not in this boat. But virtue signalling still runs deep. Most are quite clear that they don’t wish death on the Prime Minister (which is magnanimous and liberal of them) yet they can’t help but caveat their well wishes. I have seen umpteen tweets and comments approximating the following:

I don’t vote for the Tories and I certainly didn’t vote for Boris but I still hope he is alright.

You can find any number of variations on the theme. But, essentially, we’ve got a lot of people making sure you know that they usually hate the Prime Minister and his party, they definitely aren’t tainted by association with that errant set of political beliefs, but they’re human enough not to hate them so much that they wish death upon them. Which is nice of them, isn’t it!

I can’t help but think if we have to caveat our well wishes, they’re not really well wishes at all. What they are is less a means of showing support to a (potentially) dying man and more another opportunity to signal to the world your personal right-think. The virtue signallers logic seems to run this:

  1. Everybody must be aware that I am a right-thinker;
  2. I consider the following two thoughts to be right:
    (2a) It is generally wrong to wish people dead
    (2b) The Tories are bad and/or evil
  3. If I express a desire for the Tory Prime Minister not to die (thus satisfying 1 and 2a), people may think I believe the Tories are good because I don’t want them to die (falling foul of 2b).
  4. Therefore, I will tell everyone I hate the Tories but caveat it with a comment about not wishing them dead.

The logic is flawless. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much to signal your humanity. If not wanting somebody to be dead has to be caveated, it does begin to ring a little hollow and the well wishes seem a touch disingenuous. Sadly, many seem to have lost the ability to disagree with somebody – even vehemently so – without impugning their entire character, even to the point of really wishing they were no more.

If you really want to signal right-thinking, express your well wishes without a caveat. Just wish the Prime Minister well. We don’t need to know your political views or whether you normally like the Tories or not. These sorts of caveats do not convey love or concern, they just sound like yet another way to prove to the world that you are a right-thinking, caring individual. If that is your goal, realise this approach is entirely counterproductive. And that is before we get into just how virtuous it is to use serious ill-health or the possibility of impending death to signal your virtues at any rate.

Let us just wish the Prime Minister well. Whilst, of course, it would be crassness of the highest order for them to say anything else, it has been good to see the tone of comment coming from other political parties at this time. No crowing, no schadenfreude, just sympathy and best wishes. Nobody needs to know anything else about your thoughts in relation to this matter. You either express sympathy or you don’t and surreptitiously attempting to slip other caveats and clarifications into your comment points only to the latter.

To that end, me and my family will be praying for Boris because we believe that prayer really does affect things in the world. We will pray for healing, both for his sake and that of the country. Whatever you think of him and his politics, it can’t possibly be better in these circumstances to attempt changing horses midstream. We will pray that he is able to take us through this crisis. We will ask God to grant him both health and wisdom. He is the Prime Minister that we have and so we want him to be the best Prime Minister he can be. We are grateful that our sovereign God is in ultimate control of all these things and we want to take seriously his instruction to us in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:17. Let’s not caveat ourselves out of doing as God has commanded us to do.