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The Virtues of Vice and Vice Versa

May 6,  2018

As children, most of us have probably been taught by our parents or guardians the differences between right and wrong, as in the virtues of selflessness and the vices of selfishness. The adage “It is better to give than to receive” is an oft quoted one we might hear with some angst when tempted to satisfy our carnal desires. For the most part, these moral teachings have served humanity well.

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As we reach the age of adulthood, these teachings are reinforced in the real world. Subsequently, we inherit an expectation that “as you sow, so shall you reap,” implying that selfless acts will somehow transform or satisfy our selfish desires. 

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However, what many of us discover is that genuine selfless acts are often taken advantage of by the selfish and resentment starts to build. If resentment is the fruit of our labour of love, might our efforts be misplaced? Would we be better served in re-evaluating our motives?

The truth may lie in yet another paradox of life.  As we recall the teachings of our childhood, the virtues of selflessness and the vices of selfishness, we need to remember another and equally important lesson, and that is of self-sufficiency. How to make it on our own is the ultimate example of a successful parenting job. To be self-sufficient, we need to TAKE care of our own wants and needs knowing that if we do not, we will have to RECEIVE them from others. 

The challenge we all have is to differentiate and balance between the wants and needs of a selfish motive and that of a selfless motive. Give AND take are a natural process in life and as natural as breathing. Sometimes we hold our breath and sometimes we breathe too fast; however, both extremes are unsustainable. When we are faced with circumstances in life that require us to TAKE for ourselves, it is then that we discover the virtues of vice and vice versa.

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“I prefer a pleasant vice to an annoying virtue.” -Moliere

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