Sunday, August 6, 2017

virtuous muddle

As a tweak to the zealous, I used to like the observation that "all the good people go to heaven; all the interesting people go to hell." Even today, it has a certain well-deserved zest. Lord, how confounded are those who bend a knee to virtue and yet without genuflecting, how is anyone to find out that knees have better uses?

Virtue these days, just gives me a small shiver and a wish for some superstitious remedy -- perhaps a garland of garlic to ward off the vampires or something similar. And yet how I too have thought one person or another, one action or another, one verse or another was imbued with a virtue I damned well wished I could imbibe. "Now thatsa spicey-virtuous meatball!"

Seldom if ever did it occur to me who laid on this cloak. Seldom if ever did I stop to think how the person exuding what I called virtue thought about his or her activities: If they too thought it was virtuous, could virtue really survive? These days, those hawking virtue instill in me a feeling of "worse than snake oil" together with a recognition that even snake oil is a good lubricant and can help things run smoothly.

If the Dalai Lama or the pope or the venerable what's-his-or-her-name is virtuous in my mind, well ... what does s/he say of the qualities I admire and aspire to? Like as not it's just "normal" unless making money is the object. And the fact is that virtuous people in my mind are interesting, which makes them destined for hell, which is where I'm destined from the get-go... but am I really that interesting? I doubt it ... which may make me virtuous ... and, since I mention it, put me on the path to hell....

Oh, it's all so confusing. But generally, when it comes to "virtue," all I can think is, "get thee behind me, satan!"


  1. Why hang a label on them? Just say you like what you know of them. As to heaven or hell, just go where you want.

  2. Like olcharlie asked "Why put a label on them?"

    Who is labeling whom "virtuous."
    What really concerns you?

    Can someone be partially virtuous? Yes, that is so ancient in some arenas it's a tradition!

    In the end my reaction to a given set of actions or a person who has acted over time is situationally dependent. Even then the label is recognized as provisional at best.

    For the most part the behavior of most people is uneven.
    So the best most of us can do is to strive to be virtuous.
    Be honest, simple and straightforward.
    Do good for others. Do not hurt others.
    Have some grace and class but don't be obvious about it.
    Don't be bound by convention.
    Appreciate and cultivate tranquility.