Spirituality is life. Any part of life you are in.
Today we are talking about virtue. I will open with a question. What is virtue?
I think it is something to do with truth but I can’t actually define virtue.
A character held in high regard.
It’s a feeling of goodness maybe.
Hard to describe, no?
Do we get the word virtual from virtue? As in simulated? Virtual means having the virtues of. In this case being perceptible traits.
Virtue is moral excellence. Ah, excellent start there.
We all have at our heart a drive. An impulse toward life lived positively in as healthy and peaceful a way possible, and even children demonstrate some measure of virtue in this regard. They understand that something that makes a family member cry is bad. In short order they understand that giving pain to a loved one is bad. Simple things like that, though that last attitude may not last very long. Children have an intuitive understanding of suffering, if not of danger, and at our core we all accept that suffering for the sake of suffering alone is not good. Is this unfair to say?
They have to have very animated faces when they are unable to say what is wrong. So I guess they get their understanding from that, a deep frown, and babies like faces. The child’s mirroring nervous system reproduces the state that led to that facial expression. Scowl at a baby for a short while and they will begin to get distressed, if you have their attention at least. Speak steadily in an angry tone and they will pick up that something is wrong more quickly even if they don’t understand words yet. Now what is the most common response of a little child when their mother is crying?
Distress and a curiosity of what is wrong? Not even a curiosity about the actual situation. Distress and then seeking embrace, being hugged or held, and the only thing they might think to say usually is “don’t cry.” They aren’t really able to reason about what is making Mommy cry. They just know that the cause is wrong. They don’t blame Mommy for crying. They just seek to soothe and be soothed through close contact. Their instincts serve them well for the period of time this is permitted.
They soon learn other attitudes and behaviours though. Moral excellence. Parents generally seek to instill moral excellence in their children. They have a set of ideals and standards that this budding human being is expected to conform to, and they use a great many methods to “train” their child in moral behaviour. I would say we have a society of mostly moral people today, at least in countries that aren’t as lawless as the wilder nations.
I’m generally afraid of people. I think it’s because of this trained morality people have. It comes out as people are harsh.
In many of the oldest schools of philosophy and metaphysics, even some early religions, virtue was an innate principle synonymous with the breath of life or life force, and people cannot fully violate their natures.
Everyone familiar with the works of Dante Alighieri? He wrote the Divine Comedy part of which we know as the work titled “The Inferno.” Dante travels through hell. It’s considered a classic, but I find his model of the virtues (which is based on catholic thought if loosely) to be illustrative. It’s clear in explaining the relationship between virtue and virtues failure which is also known as vice. People pursue moral excellence passionately. It’s seen as the basis of a meaningful life. They draw every intuition they have regarding what is right and proper in life, for themselves and others, from inherent aspects of human nature. Everyone has these features in common.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.