We live in a world where it seems easier to get what we want by following the desires and scripts of the masses. However, the truth is that we live in a world that desperately needs change. This change will not come from the majority, who operate on artificial virtue, but from the few daring individuals who live in a place of pure virtue. In this article, we will explore why undertaking the daunting journey of virtue is worth it for those who are selfless enough to understand the impact that they can make on future generations.
Artificial Virtue: acts that appear kind but are conditional or manipulative. This also encompasses any unconscious scripts of "politeness" that have no authentic connection to the act itself. These acts are often performed to gain favor or approval rather than from a place of genuine compassion or empathy. In essence, artificial virtue is in appearance alone, not substance.
Difficulty before Reward
Throughout history, pursuing virtue has often come at a heavy price. Genuine virtue—unlike its counterfeit counterpart—demands personal sacrifice, patience, steadfast adherence to one's principles, and the courage to face adversity. Figures such as Mohandas Gandhi, Jesus, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr. exemplify such virtue.
Despite facing fierce criticism, physical harm, and even persecution, they continued championing justice, peace, unconditional love, and unity. Their struggles were intensified because their virtues often clashed with societal norms, egoistic tendencies, and dominant power structures. Thus, the journey towards virtue requires bravery, resilience, and unwavering devotion to truth—making it a much harder path to tread than simply exhibiting superficial virtue.
At first glance, it may seem that living virtuously is not worth it. It's much easier to follow the crowd and get what we want, especially when society notoriously rewards conformity and self-interest. Fame and fortune are frequently achieved by those who align with popular trends or exploit the desires of others seeking connection with the powerful or idolized. This cycle propagates a culture of self-centeredness and superficiality, sidestepping real issues and shifting blame. It is a systemic problem rooted in deflecting personal responsibility and avoiding the core of our challenges. To act in virtue is to expose these issues and to go against societal norms.
The Payoff of a Virtuous Life:
Undertaking a virtuous life can often seem challenging in a world where virtue is frequently met with persecution. However, the benefits of this path are profound and far-reaching. It is essential to understand that the pursuit of virtue is not about individual gain but it's about catalyzing positive change in the broader society. A virtuous life often inspires others around us, encouraging them to adopt ethical practices and creating a ripple effect that significantly impacts the community. On a personal level, living a life of virtue brings unparalleled inner peace and fulfillment. This internal serenity stems from the knowledge that one's actions contribute to a better world and living in alignment with one's deepest values and principles. Additionally, a virtuous life can gift you a sense of purpose. As you commit to embody qualities like honesty, compassion, and integrity, you become more conscious of your actions and their impacts. This introspection guides you towards decisions that resonate with your moral compass, thus leading to a deeper purpose in life.
Steps You Can Take to Live a Virtuous Life:
Cultivate Self-Awareness: Begin by turning the gaze within. Understanding your emotions, motives, and reactions is essential to living a virtuous life. Regular introspection, possibly through journaling or meditation, can assist you in achieving a deep level of self-awareness and personal accountability.
Humble Yourself: Humility involves recognizing that we are not inherently superior or inferior to others. It's about understanding that everyone has strengths, weaknesses, and unique journeys. Never place yourself above others, as this leads to self-righteousness and can cause us to lose our way. Remember, everyone you meet has something valuable to teach you. Humility allows us to remain open and receptive to continuous learning and growth.
Practice Honesty with Compassion: Being truthful does not mean being harsh or inconsiderate. Strive to communicate your truth in the most loving and compassionate way possible. Balancing honesty with empathy can help reduce conflict and promote understanding.
Embrace Respect and Kindness: Treat everyone with respect, regardless of their opinions or actions. Embrace a path of non-violence, both in thought and action. This extends not only to others but also to yourself.
Let Go of the Ego: Detach from the desire to be validated by others. Your worth is not defined by external approval but by your actions and values. Let go of the need to constantly prove yourself and instead focus on living authentically and with integrity.
Walk the Path Less Traveled: It's alright to go against societal norms if they conflict with your truth. Be prepared for resistance, but remember, virtue often requires courage.
Seek Continuous Growth: Living virtuously is a lifelong journey. Be open to learning, growing, and evolving throughout your life. Embrace new perspectives and challenge your beliefs.
Lead by Example: Instead of imposing your views on others, let your actions speak for themselves. Show compassion, kindness, and honesty in all aspects of your life to inspire others to do the same.
Practice Atonement: Mistakes are an integral part of our growth process. When you falter, do not despair. Instead, seek atonement by acknowledging your mistakes, making amends, and using the experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Atonement transforms regret into wisdom and propels us forward on the path of virtue.
Be Mindful of Your Impact: Understand that your actions have consequences for yourself, those around you, and the world. Be mindful of how your choices impact others, and strive to contribute positively.
Remember, living a virtuous life is not about being perfect or without flaws. It's about consistently striving towards moral excellence and always seeking growth and improvement. Embrace your imperfections, learn from them, and use them as fuel to become the best version of yourself.