Nationwiding: The act of depressing a joyous event with anxious moralism.
The entire nation experienced “nationwiding” during the 2015 Super Bowl when Nationwide Insurance spent a great deal of money running an advertisement to make sure nobody anywhere was simply having a good time. Leave aside the worry that an insurance company is the wrong company to talk about the accidental death of children. Disregard the tastelessness of showing this disturbing advert at a moment when very young children were certainly watching television. Ask yourself: is a party the best time to teach us about safety?
The PR flack for the company said they wanted to start an important conversation about child safety as if a Super Bowl party was the time to do just this very thing. Discussions at my parties range from Plato through Person of Interest to Parsifal, but are always light hearted because parties are for jolliness and not serious discussion.
When I want a serious discussion, I have a serious discussion and when I want avocado wrapped in bacon, football, and friends, I have a Super Bowl party. Nationwide confused the two tasks and ruined both. C.S. Lewis points us to this when he refers to a passage in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:
“I should like balls infinitely better,” she replied, “if they were carried on in a different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious in the usual process of such a meeting. It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day.”
“Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like a ball.”
Miss Bingley made no answer; and soon afterwards got up and walked about the room.
And yet Nationwide has only given us a verb for the act of ruining fun with endless moralism. The church is overrun with killjoys who see any act of beauty as evil “since we could give the money to the poor.” It does not matter to them that the only Biblical character to make this argument explicitly was Judas. (John 12:5) Unless you are Jesus, it is hard to have the moral confidence to tell the Judas (who only wants money so he can steal it) that our act of beauty and worship is more appropriate just now than feeding the poor.
“Don’t you care about the poor?” says the nationwiding Judas. Nationwiding is often a cover for theft, a moralism that allows the speaker to steal money or sell his product in the name of his cause, but this is not always the case. Nationwiding is sometimes done by painfully sincere people who simply cannot give their cause a rest . . .not even to raise money for another good cause.
Take a stand for traditional marriage and you will be nationwided by someone who says right-to-life is more important. Take a stand for marriage and life and another person will wonder why you do not care for the poor. Nationwiding is most common in Christian circles in the name of evangelism. No teaching ministry is safe from the accusation that instead of doing (apologetics, Bible study, theology) one should “just go witness.”
Pure nationwiding is found when a party is destroyed by the pious and Christians are less guilty of this than atheists and the left. Atheism and progressives may have a sense of humor, but generally only when it is tied to the cause. Laughter tends to focus on mocking the benighted and so find justification. If you must tell a joke, at least your joke can take down the Man.
The Super Bowl party is a ripe target for nationwiding, since it is harmless, widely practiced by all social classes, and centers in a game not favored by the left elites. Since Americans insist on having a party and playing football (while eating politically incorrect food products and drinking frowned on drinks), they can redeem it if they eat their moralistic spinach. We must be confronted with some cause or another: particularly causes football loving men are thought to need.
We must think about how we are: killing our children, harming our wives, or ignoring poor people: NOW.
Of course, the person given to nationwiding is thinking: “Don’t you think we need to talk about children, abuse, or poverty?” I certainly believe we do. Let’s talk a great deal about it hearing all the sides of the issues. Let us have a national discussion, but let us not have it during my party. A party does not require justification: fun is good, God loves it.
The easiest response to the nationwider is to hang them up in cause conflict. If they want to end the party in a discussion of accidental death, bring up childhood poverty and ask why they want a kid to live, but do not care what happens to them after they get the right to life. This always works.
And yet perhaps it is not charitable.
When facing the nationwide, we may have to change the channel or make fun of their inappropriate attempted theft of our fun. The nationwider, that sincere spirit cannot bear to be mocked.