Stop Demanding Rewards For Basic Decency

When one wants to begin improving himself, to make himself better than he is now and thus make his life better than it is now, many people ask me where they should start. My answer to that is twofold: When it comes to action, I would say that you should start with physical training, as it is something you can do entirely on your own and thus you won’t get judged and made fun of by anybody watching when you inevitably mess up (as all novices do).

However, if there is a single mindset or concept that I feel is vital to self-improvement, more than anything else I would say that the idea you need to internalize to accomplish anything is:

Stop Demanding A Reward For Basic Decency

Or to put it another way, if you want people to notice you, and respect and admire you, you have to do more than just the same shit that everybody else is doing, the same stuff that’s just barely enough to keep people out of prison and keep food on their table.

Or to put it in the terms of a famous joke: “Nobody ever talks about all the times I DIDN’T murder someone!”

The prime example of this I can think of is the recent push to publicize “virtuous pedophiles”.

(You thought I was going to talk about the stereotypical “nice guy”, weren’t you?)

Websites like Salon and the allegedly conservative National Review have discussed these virtuous pedophiles, how they have an ingrained urge to molest children but they heroically fight off these urges and avoid that repulsive behavior, thus making them not only virtuous, but heroic and worthy of praise and publicity.

Just to make something very clear, I am not a callous monster, and I do have sympathy for somebody who unfortunately has those urges and chooses to fight against it and not act upon them. However, can we all agree that “not fucking children” is the absolute lowest, bare minimum standard of decent human behavior? If the greatest thing you can say about yourself is “I CHOSE not to molest a child today”, I think you’re setting your standards way too low. And I’m certainly not going to respect just because you did the bare minimum.

Similarly, the stereotypical “nice guy” mentioned above, the bane of both neo-masculinists AND feminists—finally, something we agree upon! Everybody talks about how much they hate this guy for being a creep, for being entitled, for being duplicitous, but the reason I hate him is, again, because he demands rewards for (superficially) acting like a good person. Even for those men who are genuinely nice, I always have to ask them: “What else are you?”

So you don’t go out of your way to impede people’s day to day lives? That’s fantastic, what else do you bring to the table? Do you have any talents, or skills, or knowledge, or contribute positively to anyone’s life in any way? And as I mention in my popular “What Women Want” article, even men who can objectively be stated to make people’s lives worse (like drug dealers, lawyers, and the like) are still likely more popular, successful, and sexually active than Joe Nice Guy because at the very least they’re interesting, and have a wealth of illicit knowledge—and those things give women the giney tingles, and in a woman’s eyes, that is indeed a positive contribution to society.

A related phenomenon is the idea that “I’m putting on a lot of effort, so I SHOULD be getting results”—and I admit there was once a time when I had this mindset: when I first started working out and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I hate to say it, but you can put in a lot of effort and not get a damn thing in results, and merely putting in the sweat equity isn’t enough. Either you’re not doing something right and your gameplan needs to be changed, or you’re not good at it and should consider another line of work.

And when you get down to it, when we complain about “virtue signaling” and “slacktivism”, isn’t that just a form of demanding rewards for basic decency? “I gave a thumbs up to people who protest animal abuse, look at how good I am!”

Personally, I don’t know when this sort of thing started—I  blame the Self-Esteem movement of the 80s and 90s myself. But it seems to me that if not only men want to improve themselves, but the entire country wants to improve itself (and it certainly needs it), then this is a good place to start—to convey to the entire nation that “you need to do something extraordinary, or at least above average, to get praise and reward for it”.

  • Ethan Edwards

    As co-founder of Virtuous Pedophiles I say you’re getting the context all wrong. Lots of people assume all pedophiles molest children. We are telling you we don’t — never have, never will. It’s a surprise to lots of people. As our home page says, “Virtuous doesn’t mean we think we’re better than the average person, just that we’re not worse.” If you set the moral frame as “average person” then your argument sounds OK, but as pedophiles are actually framed in people’s minds as “assumed to be the worst people on earth”, “virtuous” is a simple denial, not self-congratulations.

    • That’s fair enough, I suppose. And yeah, I think there’s a pretty clear line drawn between those who don’t engage in pedophilic actions, like yourself, and those that do. Like I said, I do sympathize with guys like you.

      But I feel that some might feel the urge to use it as a congratulatory thing, Indeed, when you have guys like Todd Nickerson using it as a jumping off point for a writing career, I see that as the exact problem I talk about in the article.

      • Ethan Edwards

        I’d be interested in seeing the link on Todd launching a writing career to evaluate your point better. Todd and I both moderate at and collaborate. He is a brave man — his life is on the line as an “out” pedophile who people can find if they really want to. He’s a hero to the vast majority of us who won’t take that step. There’s no way someone would choose that just for an edge in a writing career. But our lives are important to us just like yours is important to you, and we don’t feel we are condemned to just mope around sheepishly. We try to follow our dreams too — the ones that are ethical.

        • The Salon article he wrote seemed a bit self-congratulatory to me, maybe that was more because multiple media outlets rushed to defend it and condemn those who were upset about it.

          But again, this goes back to my original point: I certainly don’t want to keep you from living your lives and accomplishing anything you want (Except for child molesting). If you achieve things while keeping your pedophilic urges quiet, you’ll probably win a lot more esteem then if you just merely not molest a kid.

          In other words, being a virtuous pedophile is a good thing, but in my mind being virtuous and being esteemed requires more than just resisting your base urges.

          • Ethan Edwards

            I took a look at again at Todd in “I’m a pedophile, not a monster” and think that the modest amount of positive thinking he includes is trying to be present some element of happiness in life. Perhaps when a pedophile pops up on your newsfeed and asks you not to hate him, he might be most sympathetic if he is nothing but penitent and somber. Todd takes it one step further, but far from asking for rewards.

            We’ve taken diverse flak for our name. A few manage to think that we’re saying molesting kids is virtuous. Those who are OK with adult/child sex resent fiercely that we think we’re better than they are (we do). Many pedophiles, on the other, fear they aren’t sufficiently virtuous to qualify because seeing an attractive child led to some fleeting private sexual fantasies. Some pedophiles prefer “Minor-Attracted Person”, but we fear this comes across as a transparent attempt to be evasive. The word “pedophile” originally pertained to a person’s thoughts, and in recent times it is taken to pertain to a person’s actions — molestation — and they are assumed to be the same bunch of people. By putting “virtuous” before “pedophiles” we in just two words challenge that falsehood that is so damaging to us. Maybe “Celibate Pedophiles” would have been better, and we don’t intend anything different with the name we actually chose.

            You are willing to be reasonable in the face of argument, and that’s a great thing. But your original title is “Stop Demanding Rewards For Basic Decency” and you raise Virtuous Pedophiles as exhibit number one. No one is asking for rewards — that came from you (though you are not alone). Could I dare to hope you might retract it entirely — or find a different example?

          • I think my point still stands (ie: About how I feel that virtue is more than just denying your negative urges), but maybe I could rearrange it so that the “nice guys” are number one instead.

  • James Sunderland

    My to do list for today.

    -NOT fuck a child.

    -NOT go to jail.

    -NOT murder anyone.

    Okay.I’ve got everything planned out.I was going to put not stealing or raping but I didn’t want to overdo it.