I don`t know if i am virtuous. I think there is a rule that if you are virtuous, you`re not supposed to say: ''I am virtuous'' it is kind of like saying: ''I am humble'' because if you were really humble, you would not telling people about it. I can say though that i am lonely and some say that virtue is a lonely road. Why do i stay here? Why do i stay in this lonely place, away from my friends, my family and culture of origin? Do i long to be uncomfortable? Do i like to suffer?Am I getting something out of this?
I left the comfort of my family`s home nearly 18 years ago. According to my parents, from my earliest childhood, i was running as far away as i could from their hugs and from the security of my family home. For the first few years that i was away from home, there was a transition from adolescence to adulthood. This first adulthood was more like a prolonged form of adolescence where i had a lot of the rights and relatively few of the responsibilities inherent to being a real adult. I lived free. Free to make my choices, stay at home or go to class while my rent and school were mostly paid for. Still, I chose to work, to use my own money (about 7000$ of money earned at minimum wage over a period of about 3 years-weekends as a busboy in a toronto restaurant). I did not have to use my money. My parents never asked me to. It was a virtuous thing to do in some ways because i could have put the money under a mattress and invested it for my own personal gain. I was not raised to do that though. I was raised to contribute. To take the harder path, even though an easier one was available to me. I guess that is virtue. Virtue means you do it because it is the right thing to do, not because someone is looking. The reason why i can`t claim to be virtuous is that i have done things which i knew were wrong. I think we all have. Sometimes the temptation is great enough and the supervision is absent and well, you just think you can get away with it. In general, the reason why we don`t push each other out of the way on the subway platform or in movie line ups is because there are people watching. Then again, sometimes we do things in a crowd that we would never dream of doing alone or face to face with someone.
The road to virtue is supposed to be lonely. It is lonely because there are few people on it. If you choose it, you will be lonely because you will be marginal, seen as different. Some may despise you for it. Actually, there is a long history of virtuous people being stoned to death, hung, crucified and the like. Not hard to see why really. When someone chooses a higher or more enlightened path they are perceived as menacing to us. Their simple existence confirms our failings. Their every action drives home our inadequacies. When they speak about their views on life, they contradict everything we need to tell ourselves just to go about the days business. They are seen as: annoying, not focused on the real issues, preachy, holier than thou etc...
The one cop who won`t take the bribe is usually not going to last long. A common hero narrative depicts that one virtuous individual against all odds, fighting for the truth. The story of Siddartha is one such narrative. Jesus is another.
There are few virtuous people in my opinion. Not because people are bad or weak but because there are serious consequences, as mentioned above. Choosing a harder path often, if not usually means going against the mainstream. Swimming upcurrent. Who wants to do that? For what? To what end?. People who have children can sometimes be virtuous, although contrary to many parents' beliefs, having children does not render you automatically virtuous. No, that would be too easy. Having children to suit your own selfish and narcissistic needs is no virtue indeed. Raising your children well however is difficult. It takes time, patience and tons of introspection. None of these things will pay you a dime, but all of them will help you reach virtue and instill it in your children. When you are introspecting you are engaged in the virtuous activity of questioning yourself. It is countersocial though in the immediate moment because it is time not spent on facebook or the internet or in front of the tube.
In summary, i am not sure where the road to virtue lies. I know i have been on it at times and stubled right off at others. The times when i am on it, i seem to be struggling like hell to remain on it and extremely uncomfortable as my thoughts and actions grate up against the social sandpaper which always seems to rub me the wrong way. Oddly enough, when i am on the virtuous path, as uncomfortable as i am, I am somehow also quite proud of who i am. When i am on the easy comfortable path, i feel no pride, just comfort and ease. I don`t question myself because tthere is no need. I look only through the out-facing iphone camera at the world and take only the picutres i like. I am in control and direct things so as to have them fall in line with my personal comfort. Actually, it sounds pretty good when you put it that way! Alas, the comfortable path is an illusion. Working out is pain now for long term gain. The comfortable path will leave you in peace but you will not have anything of interest to contribute to a discussion. You won`t have any adversity to talk about or any experience to relate. Everything you say will revolve around how good it feels to sit on your couch and how bad things happen to you through no choice of your own. Though it sounds like i do, i do not devalue those who have chosen comfort over introspection but it is true that i prefer to talk to people who have chosen virtue. I prefer talking with those people because they are a rare and special breed who see value in what most of us just consider to be pain and hard work. I like talking with them because there is something to be heard in their voices - something raw and researched. Something deep and sophisticated. There is pain there but never without resilience and that is the voice of those who are truly living.