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The Defects of Our Virtues – Life’s Slippery Slopes

Nine Areas of Virtuous Conduct That Can Slide Down the Slope

If you are a student of History, you can observe trends and movements being motivated by the extremes of human behavior. When you see war and revolution and conflict, you see real historical examples of “Life’s Slipper Slopes” – history is filled with examples of cultural extremes manifesting this way. However, when one thinks about the “Defects of Our Virtues”, one tends to think of individuals or groups of individuals in social settings.

In some ancient systems, qualities are discussed as elements or “issues”. Their use, or their extremes can be expressed in opposing directions. A simple example would be the issue of Food. Food consumed is the basic issue. It’s extreme on one sign would be fasting or famine – the deprivation of food, and the other extreme would be over consumption – feasting or gluttony or over eating. Start with food and then go through the carnival of human conduct and behavior. The lists can be endless. Suffice it to say, that unless BALANCE is an over riding goal, the individual can fall prey to almost any and every extreme, depending upon their disposition, genetics, historical moment in time, cultural upbringing or parental and societal influence.

Nine Virtues and Their Slope Sliding Counterparts

1 – Righteousness to Self-Righteousness – You will seldom hear someone say “My problem is self righteousness”. One of the qualities of righteousness gone wild is that people never know when they have slid down the slope into righteousness’s ugly cousin. People who are self righteous are just being better at what they used to be just good at. “Now I am really good, not just good, but super good.” The problem with self-righteousness is that it is not self observed, and thus it tends never to be turned away from. People tend to go down this road and careen into a dead end. Ecclesiastes 7 discusses being “righteous over much” with a good question at the end of the verse. “Why will you destroy yourself?”

2 – Liberality to Permissiveness – The virtue of liberality can be manifest in generosity, the extended hand of peace, the willingness to listen to opposing points of view and the desire to share resources with others. These are all wonderful sounding qualities that when initially felt make the heart flow with a glow of illumination. If you have seen parents (not you of course, other parents). You observe that some children tend to be the royalty of the family. Permissiveness is indeed a slippery slope because it is hard to “take things back”. It’s hard to say on one week: “Oh all those things are OK and fine for you to do”, and then the next month say, “Points 1 and 3 and 5, I would like to amend.” Permissiveness tends to have a momentum to it.

 

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