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.


Olumide Sangobiyi said...

Nice writing by you & i'm impressed by how you made a simple comment become topical. To this end i'd devote my small comment to your blog part which seeks an answer to whether virtue is gender specific and not DUOGENDIC (Thats the essence of blogs; makes you form your own words).
Anyway, have you ever wondered why women face more scrutiny when it comes to moral values? The answer lies in history and i agree with your references to the bible. Virtue is simply a woman thing. I expect some women readers of this comment to hurry to jump to your gender defence but before you do, pls read me out first.
I do not agree that men should not be without morals and all that is good but when it comes to being judgmental, i would naturally chastise a woman more heavily than a man for the same immoral behavior committed especially on an issue such as fidelity. I was with some friends and they were discussing University girls (especially the one close to us here) and how most of the girls have become 'Pay as you go'. A breakdown of what this means would simply make you cry. But its a reality in our Lagos of today. An outsider would not believe the depth of the decay but for someone in the know, he knows there is a danger to the future mothers of our future children.
Before i sign out, i would like you to reference this phrase; MEN OF HONOR, WOMEN OF VIRTUE. Honor is expected of men, virtue is expected of women. A betterunderstanding of my comments can be found on a book i once read titled 'MEN OF HONOR, WOMEN OF VIRTUE, by Dr. Chuck Stecker.

Ariiyike said...

It's agreeable that there's a higher expectation of virtue from the female gender but to say absolutely that 'Virtue is simply a woman thing' is not totally acceptable.
Virtue is DUOGENDIC (let me borrow ur word). Virtues are not divided according to gender. They are just simply differently expressed. Within a given gender they are expressed and defined according to what i will call 'gender related tendencies'.
Thanks for ur very enlightening comment. I will surely check out that book.

Deola said...

Hmmm... Before we go on considering the 'Genderdic' perspectives of Virtue, we should broaden the topic. If virtue refers to honesty, good manners, uprightness, decency and such like, then the gender view can be narrow.

A perspective of virtue for Women (or girls) can be seen from the dressing or sexual behaviour. Its true that this is a big problem in our world today.

But for men, where do we place the unbridled quest for wealth and power. Where do we place the uncontrolled yearn for sex outside marriage.

Virtue, actually can be likened to 'Godliness'. And truth be told, man on his own will be unable to attain the high standards of 'virtue'. But with God, we can attain. God, through Christ, gives us 'all that pertains to life and Godliness'.

Lets all, male and female, think about these things and strive for virtue. We can be the light in this ever darkening world. Otherwise, what benefit do we bring to our environment?

Tunji Molehin said...

21st century pips r driven by d power of Information&communication which in itself is a tool dat has bin used to erode core values of patience!,discipline,etc.ICT gives an appealing VIRTUE! which can be attained rather CHEAPLY without constraining oneself to doing things with EXCELLENCE PERFECTION.

Rotimi Ajijoloa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rethots said...

"Men of Honour, Women of Virtue" very brilliant but, without apologies i totally disagree that "It's agreeable that there's a higher expectation of virtue from the female gender..."
While the above phrase is interesting, men naturally would be liked to be described as honourable and women as virtuous. Be that as it may, a man has no choice but to also have virtue & a woman ought to have honour.

Virtue, is demanded from us, regardless of gender. Why do we like genderilizing issues?
Pray tell me.