This Thing About Virtue



About Virtue

   by Mustang


We (well, some of us) have been taught that the seven virtues are chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.  Honesty, apparently, is not one of these —which may go a long way in explaining the Congress of the United States.  And if honesty or integrity isn’t a virtue, then neither is brutal honesty, which I’ll get back to in just a moment.  As for the seven virtues, I suppose we could line out and initial a few of them for the sake of making sense in our modern society.


Etymachia treatise on seven vices and seven virtues

Chastity, purity, and abstinence.  When we have sexually active pre-teens, forget about it, but you know, they’re just kids and they need to be taught about this from someone much older. 

Hopefully, that someone wouldn’t be former President Bill Clinton —or a parent whose having an affair with the neighbor across the street.  What a tangled mess we’ve made of things.


Diligence, persistence, ethics, making an effort.  Some of us still have these virtues —the successful among us.  Given the high school dropout rates, the number of under-educated social-justice warriors in our society today, and number of career politicians whose only skill set is fooling people into reelecting them, we aren’t doing quite so well in these areas, either.

Again, these are virtues that we must rely on parents to inculcate within their offspring, and which must be reinforced by teachers, clerics, workplace mentors, and the people who have hiring/firing authority in the workshop.  It’s no crime to screw up; God is forgiving.  It is a crime never to learn from our mistake.

Patience, forgiveness, mercy.  We won’t find much of this among people who classify themselves as Democrats, but to be honest, as a conservative, it is really difficult to forgive people whose political behavior is treasonous.  I need to work on this one, although I am able to make a distinction between forgiving but not forgetting.  What is that they say about reacting to someone who does you wrong?  Wrong me once, shame on you; wrong me twice, shame on me


Kindness, satisfaction, compassion.  We do have a lot of kind/compassionate people in our society, but I think the numbers are falling.  I hope someone will correct me about this.  And what must we think about those who take advantage of our acts of kindness?  Our government comes to mind.  Since we aren’t kind enough, the government has taken over; now they decided who and under what circumstances we can offer acts of compassion —no matter, we end up paying for it, whether we want to or not.  Compassion must come from our hearts, not the treasury department or the Congress.


Humility, bravery, modesty, reverence.  I don’t think we have much of this, these days.  Only about 1% of the nation’s population has courage enough to serve in uniform.  Add in the numbers of first responders, and this figure might increase to around 1.5%.  Not a very good showing, if you ask me.  I also think this is a problem of poor parenting.  Watching athletes strut around in the end-zone, or on the green after holing a long putt, does not seem very modest to me.  Good citizenship demands this virtue; that we aren’t seeing much of it is disturbing.

Honesty/integrity should be a virtue, but it isn’t.  Do you realize that if this was a mandate for ever running for political office, we would have no congress, state legislatures, or city/town councils?  That could actually be a good thing, but impractical.  If we are deficient in this area, then let me say that brutal honesty takes the other margin.

It is one thing to know that there are third-and-fourth-world shitholes on our planet without actually naming them.  This is where I think Mr. Trump errs.  It doesn’t mean that he’s wrong, it just means that he displays a dearth of virtue.

It’s kind of like having a conversation with one of those annoying parents who is always thrusting a picture of their child in your face —and expecting a kind word about THEIR child.  What you want to say is, “Holy cow, look at the size of that kid’s head!”  Even if the observation is correct, should we really go out of our way to hurt someone else’s feelings?  Probably not.

I just wonder —as a society, are we smart enough to figure this out?  If we are, then what should we do about it?


The seven heavenly virtues were derived from the Psychomachia (“Contest of the Soul”), an epic poem written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (c. AD 410) entailing the battle of good virtues and evil vices.

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