Monday, May 16, 2011

Comfort or virtue?

It's an Aristotelian slogan that virtue lies in the middle, between the extremes. Courage, for example, is found between the extremes of cowardice and foolhardiness. But it's not a mathematical middle. It's somewhere in between. A lot depends on the context. Hence, the cardinal virtues are courage, justice, moderation and prudence.

I overheard a conversation a while ago at my deceased gym. A twenty-something trainer, one of the finest pieces of eye candy my bifocal-wearing ocular globes have seen in a while, was chatting with his client about politics. He opined that it was a mistake to be either conservative or liberal, since neither side ever got what it wanted. That makes you unhappy. So he wanted to be in a comfortable place somewhere in the middle, where he would not be constantly dissatisfied. A handsome young Buddha in a leather jockstrap! (A pic is here, if scroll half way down, on the left.)

On the level of comfort and daily ease, I wish I could follow his advice, not notice or care about the situations that irk me, be content with things as they are, with people as they are, with me as I am. This is not a setup for me to proclaim that because I am not satisfied with how things are that I am therefore and for that reason virtuous. Even if I am right about the things that get to me, that does not translate into making me virtuous. Merely correctly dissatisfied.

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