The traditional Southerner has always been wary of the do-gooder, seeking primarily to be free to live his life with his family and friends according to his values and at peace with God and the natural world. As MacDonald King Aston (author of Yankee Babylon) spoke about in a recent interview with SNN, what he has termed “the great inversion” saw the theocratic New England Puritans secularised into what we would recognise as the modern Yankee. Many of the Puritan values, including the burning need to “do good” were kept by the secularised Yankees. Probably the most famous (or infamous) of the Puritan do-gooders was Cotton Mather, an upper class Bostonian who was born in 1663. Mather implored his fellow Puritans to “fly into the matter” and “manage it with rapturous delight… as a most precious privilege” to do good. Any Southerner who has dealt with an influx of Yankees into his home town knows exactly how alive this do-gooder spirit still is in Yankee culture. It is easy for us to imagine the frustration and annoyance felt by those who had to bear the brunt of a Mather-inspired Bostonian in grasp of “incomparable pleasure” as he busied himself with the concerns of his neighbours and acquaintances. This imposing, snooping, meddlesome behaviour of the Yankees is the very spirit behind the 200,000 pages of Federal regulations which seek to control every aspect of your life today, forcing your compliance with the central plan. It is the spirit behind the agenda of Cass Sunstein‘s (who is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration) book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, which argues for a paternalistic government that “nudges” you to make better decisions in your daily life. This same spirit is the one which seeks to “make the world safe for democracy” and force New England-style democratic-liberalism on Persians, Turks, Chinese, Somalis, Russians and the whole world. So many of us have seen it on the local level as gaggles of busy-bodies from the Northeast have descended upon us and agitated for higher property taxes, zoning regulations, the removal of “offensive” statues, speech and symbols and the rest of their totalitarian agenda. In shrill, loud voices they inform us of the righteousness of their ways and the backwardness of our own. Our culture and indeed the whole world must be re-made in the image of Boston, New York and Chicago.
For those of y’all who live in relatively isolated areas of Dixie where the local people have been so blessed as to not yet have to endure the meddlesome do-gooder from up North, count your blessings and be vigilant – for the do-gooder is out there and every-busy with his work of re-making things, as Cotton Mather wrote, “enabling him directly to answer the great End of his being.”
Is there no salvation from the do-dooger?!