Thursday, January 25, 2018

Let Virtue Abound!

Ralph Waldo Emerson - in one of his many moments of clarity - reminds us that: The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough”. This insight was as useful in his time as it is now; its veracity being the reason for its durability. In our time the preoccupation with greatness is a major indulgence of certain individuals, groups, and nations. Some want to become great, while some long to have again the greatness they claim has been lost over time via the dilution of cultural and political influences that they perceive as antithetical to their interests. 

At the very core of the assumptions that inform the concept of prominence implicit in the strident rhetoric that serves these interests, is a sense of selfhood that presumes supremacy over those who are seen as somehow inferior by virtue of certain specific cultural indices. Hidden among these are held prejudices about race, skin color, economic dominance, and gender. These prejudices serve to mask the existential insecurities of those who are shaken by the threat of being non-entities in a world where power is perceived in terms of the parading of opulence. That opulence historically is the result of a dynamic of exploitation; the entrenched disenfranchisement of the many by a few whose vices are rationalized by philosophical and institutional devices designed to propagate their interest.

Absent from the consideration of greatness are the deeper issues that cradle the essential viability of the human enterprise. Among these are sound values that underlay community. Ultimately there can be no greatness, individual or otherwise, in isolation. Gestalt makes a valid point - the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. United we stand. Divided we will fall. Any meaningful contemplation of greatness must include precepts that bring us together against the assault of a culture of selfishness. Chief among these precepts is Virtue.
Virtue is defined as: moral goodness; upright living; righteousness. All these values may be expressed as: doing to others as you would have them do to youVirtue challenges us to lift each other up in the face of circumstances that are down-pressing. Virtue is that light in the darkness. It warms the cold, comforts the afflicted, reassures the frightened, and shows 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.
Virtue calls us to community... to a sense of personal and corporate accountability. This precept challenges us to let our light shine as a guide to others. Unlike the superficial platitudes of those who would exploit others for their own ends... Virtue reminds us that an authentic love is not a function of our simple-minded heroism. 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
If we would be great we must firmly and sincerely point the way to both communal and self-redemption. The cultivation of Virtue is absolutely necessary in each life. Virtuous living is liberating. It is expressed as a state of good health - in a State of good health. Virtue prioritizes Moral health... Physical health... Cultural health... Communal health... National well-being. 

Beyond the putrid rhetoric of a vain nationalism - Let Virtue abound!

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