“The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough…” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Virtue is defined as: moral goodness; upright living; righteousness. It is the conduct of one’s life in accordance with principles of Righteousness. It is doing to others as you would have them do to you. Virtue challenges us to lift each other up in the face of circumstances that are down-pressing. Virtue is that light in the darkness that warms the cold, comforts the afflicted, reassures the frightened, and points the way to those who may be lost.
Virtue moves us toward each other. It makes us care in a culture where one person’s mis-step or misfortune is treated as nobody else’s concern. Virtue opens our eyes where it is more convenient to be blind. When we care, we align our lives with the cause of Justice. When we align our lives with the cause of Justice, we find ourselves in solidarity with the purpose of working to liberate our fellowmen from all circumstances that are dehumanizing. These circumstances range from personal habits of drug and sexual addiction to the corporate cultivation of inhumane working conditions.
Virtue calls us to call each other to personal and corporate accountability. It makes us constructively critical of our national perspectives and priorities. Virtue rejects our individual and corporate tendencies toward inhumane practices. It condemns torture and police criminality. It challenges us to let our light shine as a guide to others. Virtue reminds us that the Justice we demand of others, institutional and national, must also be evident in our own behavior as citizens, as parents, as co-workers, and as neighbors.
Virtue reminds us that an authentic love is not a function of our simple-minded heroism. It is not enough to give the unfortunate a turkey so that we can then feel good about ourselves. A “hand-out” is okay. We are reminded of our human duty to feed the hungry. However, a hand up is always better. The empowerment of persons is the real mission to which we are called. We must remain mindful of the reality that we cannot do for others what they should, and must do for themselves in the course of their humanity.
An authentic love, a virtuous love, is the real work that we must each do to save ourselves from the despair bred by dysfunctional living. What we can all do for each other is to lovingly, but firmly, point the way to self-redemption. No person can save another person’s soul. The cultivation of self-control is absolutely necessary in each life. Virtuous self-control is liberating. It leads to a state of good health. Moral health. Physical health. Cultural health. Spiritual health. That is what salvation is! Anything less is religious vanity. Nothing more.
The New Year comes... Again. We appropriately want to refocus our lives through resolutions designed to make us better. We want to become more healthy. We want to become more prosperous. We desire to shed the vanity that eventually leads to our destruction. Ultimately it is our commitment to more virtuous living that will allow us to realize the most noble of our aspirations. We are reminded by Ralph Waldo Emerson that the essence of the greatness to which we aspire is the knowledge... the perception that virtue is enough.
Happy New Year!!
Happy New Year!!