5.01.2008

The Virtuous Life

Death. Usually a reference to the process by which all people exit life, entering whatever may come next. It refers to the final breath, the painful wandering, the gloomy expenditure of existence. Most associate death the absence of life in another living being. But too often it refers to more than people, more than organisms. Too often ideas die. Ideas that are not radical, not riot inducing or mind-bending. Those are the ideas of conspiracy theorists, finding something that doesn't fit and suggesting something that most people find outrageous...yet...believable?

Today's death that I shall talk about is one that is very close to me. It may soon see a resurrection, but I do not expect it.
This is the death of chivalry, integrity, and virtue.

A friend once confronted me about how boys no longer hold the door open for her. The next sentence was exactly what I feared it would be: "Why can't guys be gentlemen?" Not wanting to destroy her eardrums with a 3 hour monologue, I simply said "there is more to being a gentleman than opening doors" and changed the subject. I knew she didn't care. But it's very true: there IS more to being a gentleman than opening doors for ladies and offering one's coat when it is cold, though these are both part of it.

Chivalry is about treating other people better than yourself. It is about being selfless, taking care of other people, and unconditional love. The first thought of a chivalrous person in any given situation is "how can I make them happy?" Chivalry is never self centered, never objective, and never hating.
To those paying attention, this may sound familiar. First Corinthians thirteen, anyone? The famous "Love Chapter." Love is this, love is that, love never this, love always that. There is an important part that many people forget: Chapter 14, verse 1 says to follow the way of love. That means we have this example set before us, we know that it is the greatest, now do it! Love other people, treat them with respect, be...chivalrous.

We live in an age where the only way to get ahead is by stepping the faces of those we need to get above. "Don't look back because you're never going there again." This is cutthroat, this is accepted this is normal. And this is what we want, isn't it? To be normal? To be like everyone else, forgotten, accepted as background noise, never to be recognized.
Yes, that sounds tempting [said with painful sarcasm].
Be different. Be alive. For God's sake just don't be like everyone else! What makes someone different is when he or she is well known for something good, not something bad. Avoid the norm, dear reader. When most people cheat their way around the system, lower your shoulder and take it head on. Use one of the greatest tools you can have: integrity. As one with this virtue, your word is your oxygen. You live by it, fearing the circumstance when you break your word. Nothing would be worse than to not be able to keep a promise. When nothing else in this life is certain, it is comforting to be sure of your word. It is comforting to others to know that they can trust you. And you will be remembered as the one person who cared.

The virtuous life. Living by truth and surviving by wisdom. We, as a society, seem to have forgotten the concept of virtues and proverbs, instead taking on the ideology of self and forgetting others.
I am about to link you to one of the most important things you could ever read. This is a list of all of Aesop's fables. It will take a while, but it's worth it. This is ageless wisdom. The stories are short, but they embody almost every virtue.
One of the most important parts of virtue is maturity. It is denying youthful rebellion and independence and acknowledging that to survive, you must grow up. Leave your state of immaturity and enter the realm of virtue. Sadly, many people try to grow up with out first becoming virtuous. This results in middle age boys and widowing girls.

In closing: be free. Set yourself free from what could be done and embrace what NEEDS to be done. But first, understand what the necessity is. Control virtue, then gain wisdom.

That is all.