Saturday, June 12, 2010

Curious about Virtue(s): Do You Know What Yours Are? Do They Ever Oppose Each Other?

Definition of Virtue: Strength or courage; bravery; daring; spirit; valor. Active quality or power; capacity or power adequate to the production of a given effect; energy; strength; potency; efficacy; as, the virtue of a medicine. Excellence; value; merit; meritoriousness; worth. Specifically, moral excellence; integrity of character; purity of soul; performance of duty.

Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.” - Charles Kingsley, English clergyman

Today I was listening to a CD featuring the words and thoughts of Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone. They were speaking of virtue and virtues and that sometimes we are forced into situations where our virtues are challenged as opposites. An example of this in my case is that I pride myself on my honesty and integrity. However, when one of my fitness students who has been working diligently asks me if I notice a difference in his or her physique.

I notice and have noticed that they look a good bit heavier than when they started the classes. How honest should I be? In a kind way I usually suggest that to notice a big difference, exercise is not enough and that they should also work on their eating plan and lifestyle. I also share that even though I teach twelve classes a week, I have realized that I have to be more careful of my food intake as I get older.

In my search for effective quotations, I found a wide variation. There were comparisons between virtues and vices. Courage was mentioned often as the top virtue. And in many instances, virtues carried negative connotations.

Let me share several of all of the above types:
  • The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” - Elizabeth Taylor, American actress
  • The strangest, most generous, and proudest of all virtues is true courage.” –
    Michel de Montaigne, French philosopher
  • He that is good, will infallibly become better, and he that is bad, will as certainly become worse; for vice, virtue and time are three things that never stand still.” - Charles Caleb Colton, English writer
  • Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men's imperfections, and conceal your own.” - George Bernard Shaw, Irish dramatist
  • Industry, economy, honesty, and kindness form a quartet of virtues that will never be improved upon.” - James Oliver, British politician
  • It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.” – Abraham Lincoln, American President

And several more for interest:

  • I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” - George Washington, American President
  • Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” – C. S. Lewis, British author
  • The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” - Marcus Aurelius, Roman soldier
  • Who sows virtue reaps honor.” - Leonardo da Vinci, Italian artist
  • One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” - Maya Angelou, American poet
  • As far as I'm concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue.” - Albert Einstein, German physicist
  • Virtue is harmony.” – Pythagoras, Greek mathematician

And three more for fun:

  • What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet
  • When you are younger you get blamed for crimes you never committed and when you're older you begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed. It evens itself out.” - Casey Stengel, American athlete
  • Whenever there are great virtues, it's a sure sign something's wrong.” - Bertolt Brecht, German poet

So, what virtues do you have? And how have they served and worked for you? Let me hear from you.