Striving For Virtue, why modern attitudes towards virtue are detrimental (and frustrating)

Virtue.

It is such as short and simple word, but is so full of meaning in today’s society. It brings to mind people who are too good to be true, angelic almost, or without fault. A state that every person, even the most saintly among us, would find difficult at best to achieve. In society today being a virtuous person often has negative undertones.

Yet I believe that everyone should strive to be a virtuous person.

When I say that I refer to the meaning of virtue from the times if the great Greek philosophers. In the time of Socrates the word virtue had no negative connotations like it can carry today. To be a virtuous person was simply to be a person who strived for excellence in everything they do on a regular basis. This state is achieved through the creation of good habits, proper choices, and the development of good character.

A person of virtue is a person who holds themselves accountable, strives to do their best every day, actively participates in life and learning, and does not allow themselves to become victims to the circumstance they are born into, instead choosing to develop a good character despite any road blocks in their way.

One thing that absolutely baffles me about modern attitudes toward character is the thought that it is something that people are born with and cannot be changed. With all of the research regarding nature versus nurture over the years that has repetitively shown that neither nature nor nurture is the sole answer for what determines personality, how is it that society still thinks of character as something that is solely determined by nature?

This common attitude is crippling our society. It creates too many convenient excuses for people and throws personal accountability out the door. The “he can’t help it, he was born this way attitude” is a great contributor to the “affluenza” afflicted youth we are seeing come of age at this time. It is the type of attitude that teaches our children that personal growth is not a possibility for them, so they really shouldn’t bother to try.

I propose that instead of teaching our children that living a life of virtue is an impossibility and boring (because nobody wants to be a goody two shoes) we should educate them on the old meaning of the word. Virtuosity is not something we should be ashamed of; it is something every person should strive for. Imagine all of the good we could do as a society if every person strived for excellency on a daily basis? Imagine if every person had a sense of personal accountability for their actions and always strived to do what was best not only for themselves, but also for their community?

It would be amazing.

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