Tuesday, October 16, 2007

virtue - decline, extinction - my musing

" virtue is on the decline and heading towards extinction."
This is a statement from a young and upwardly mobile gentleman that i know.
And this really got me thinking...
What is virtue? Is it a relative term? And is it really on the decline?

This statement automatically spurned me into self examination and i immediately began to feel uneasy and the resultant sub-conscious attitude was self-defense. Though i still went down the path of self analysis, compared the good-old -days with high moral standards and the Sweet-mordern-day with decaying moral standards and i thought to myself that virtue would definitely have a different meaning from those 'good-old-days' considering what is obtainable now. And so, if virtue is NOT what i think it is...then maybe i ain't doing too bad.

Since i was uncertain about the meaning of that word "Virtue", i decided to do my research. The first thing that came to mind is the bible verse that talks about the virtuous woman - then i began to wonder, is virtue a feminine quality? Is it more vital for a woman than for a man?

Virtue is from a latin word called Virtus and based on it's origin, it signifies manliness or courage. Virtue as it is now known depicts moral excellence of a person. It is a trait valued as being good. The opposite of which is 'vice'.
BroadESTly speaking, virtue means the excellence of perfection of a thing, (just imagine those 2 words side by side - excellence and perfection, they make virtue sound almost unattainable). And in its strictest meaning, however, as we all understand it, virtue is good habit, essentially moral excellence, chastity.

Going further, the meaning and essence of virtue will be weakly denoted if reference is not made to the bible verse -Proverbs 31:10. That scripture is pregnant with meaning, that's a whole text book in less than 10 lines.

Virtue is more than high moral standards. It is resourcefulness, proactiveness, creativity, aesthetics, doggedness, strenght, courage...just name it. Virtue is all.
And if the good book particularly associates it with women, then maybe it is more valuable to us.

The standard for right and wrong is not a cultural thing, therefore it is not location specific. What is right is predominantly right and so is what is wrong, this probably informed the saying "call a spade a spade". Infidelity, wastefulness are as bad in Africa as they are in Asia or any other part of the world. And if it's so, i can then conclude that Virtue is not a relative term.

About it being on the decline? I need to ask the menfolk.