Pursuit of Virtue

Simply doing the right thing because it is right, whether or not anyone is watching, must still have a place in our society.   Honor, respect, civility, justice, compassion, creativity, truth, faith, hope, wisdom, charity, chivalry, perseverance … these virtues are praiseworthy and we should seek after them.  They can be the stars by which we chart our course. 

Let’s  start with a couple of brief, cute musings on the nature of truth.

First, there’s an old story about Albert Einstein.

It goes that one of his students asked the esteemed Professor about the truth.  And Einstein himself responded with a story.  He said that a man was searching diligently for the Truth for a long time.  At last, an angle appeared to him in a glowing cloak, and with huge wings.  “I wish to know the truth,” the seeker said simply.  The angel nodded gravely and spirited the seeker away in an instant to an underground cavern in which there hung a great wheel.

The wheel hung horizontal and from the spokes descended seats, in which sat prophets, priests, philosophers, sages and luminaries of all the ages.  Each enlightened one held a candle.  As the seeker stepped forward to gaze upon them, each one began to call out, “I have truth!  I alone know the truth!  They do not know the truth!  You will hear no truth from them!  Listen to the truth from me!”  A second angel appeared in burst of light and began to spin the wheel, slowly at first. As they spun their voices blended at first into a babble, like the din of conversation in a crowded room.  Gradually the spin speed increased and the light of the candles blended together.  The babble of voices merged into a resonant hum.  Eventually a great light emerged from the wheel and the voices merged into a single word echoing…”Truth, truth.”

Puzzled, the student queried Professor Einstein”This…is the truth?”

Einstein replied, “It is as close as we have been able to come to it.”

Second, there’s an old rabbinical story about truth…

Well, it was told to me by a Reconstructivitst rabbi while I was on a deployment in Baghdad. And the rabbi had grey hair. So, that makes it old rabbinical story, right? … but, I digress. Let me get back to the point about truth.

After the foundation of the world, truth was like a mirror and it was all in  one piece and therefore all in one place. Men and women from all their settlements could go and examine the truth together and know it. But somewhere after Eden, around the time of the Tower of Babel, when we were scattered across the world in many tribes and languages… the truth was broken, well shattered really. You see, each tribe wanted to take it for themselves.  Instead they each got a piece.  Pieces of the truth were thus placed within each religion and each philosophy. While each individual piece of the truth is true and is truth, no should confuse a piece with the whole thing.

When many of us seek together, from different points of view, we’re more likely to arrive at wisdom.

This is a page for good old-fashioned virtue.   Here we draw from experience and from current events, from reason and from history.  Sometimes I will employ apocryphal stories as a reference, but I will also draw from scripture, sometimes from other philosophies or even movies.  If you’re patient with me and with each other in the comments, I think we may find some understanding and inspiration.

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