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Two quotes that have got me thinking this morning.

From the Economist: Every time someone tells you to 'be realistic' they are asking you to compromise your ideals.

From Light on Life by BKS Iyengar: It is a modern illusion that positive emotions, sympathy, pity, kindness, and a general but diffused goodwill are the equivalent of virtues.

I'm not sure I completely agree with Iyengar about what virtues are, but the quote is a reminder to me that virtue is a verb, much like love. Thinking about love but not actually loving others isn't enough. Thinking nice thoughts for others is not the same as actually being helpful. Pity is not the same of compassion. Pity asks nothing of me, compassion asks that I involve my heart in another's life. I think I too often fall into the modern illusion.

Date: 2010-01-03 02:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readthisandweep.livejournal.com
In my view, the very notion of virtue is overrated & highly suspect. The idea of moral excellence, of 'virtue being it's own reward,' or worse, 'a woman of easy virtue' (says who?) makes me itch.

And surely, virtue is a noun?

Date: 2010-01-03 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ewigweibliche.livejournal.com
I know virtue is a noun, but I was playing on the common idea used in Christianity that love is a verb. I'm not a huge fan of the use of the word virtue. It reminds me too much of 'do the right thing' which is really just going along with what authority thinks is right. But this sentence is a good reminder that nice thoughts don't make change, pity doesn't comfort people, etc.

Date: 2010-01-03 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] keypike.livejournal.com
I agree that thinking loving thoughts is not the same as committing loving deeds.

But sympathy and kindness are virtuous. Actually as I write that, I'm not sure I care about 'virtue' - that word doesn't really mean much to me. I care about being a loving, kind, sympathetic person - in thought & deed. I fail miserably at times....but I think the virtue lies in the attempt.

Date: 2010-01-03 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ewigweibliche.livejournal.com
I don't think sympathy is virtuous, because it asks nothing of us. I think sympathy is a good thing, but good is not necessarily virtuous. I strongly believe in positivity, kindness and goodwill, but I like the overriding idea of the above statement. I think after living in the Bay Area I've seen more liberals and hippies using positivity and being nice as a stance of 'action.' Including myself. I'm not much of an activist. I talk a great game, but I've never physically protested a thing. Not that protest is effective either, but you get the idea?

Date: 2010-01-04 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seaivy.livejournal.com
Not all of us are called to walk picket lines and carry placards. (I only did it once and I got a blister on my foot.)

Catholic thought has recognized the effectiveness of seemingly passive action. Contemplative cloistered nuns have been criticized for not "doing something" with so many needs in the world. But theory held prayer was "doing something" and caused change.

Whether one believes in the "power of prayer" or not it is generally held that positive thought followed through in small ways ultimately causes change. The world is changed one person at a time is the adage. It is also true that we can not always know the result of our words and actions.

Some are called to big things. Others are called to influence their immediate environment.

Date: 2010-01-04 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ewigweibliche.livejournal.com
I very much believe in the power of prayer. And I'm not saying that someone needs to change federal policy to affect change. I just thought this was a good reminder that Nice Feelings are not action.

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