The Romans Had Ethics: Part 1 (2023)

The Romans Had Ethics: Part 1

No one got too ugly all of a sudden. Nobody suddenly turns bad(Juvenal,parodies, 2. 83). Very gradually, we can begin to lose our moral bearings and slowly drift towards a point of no return, discovering that it is impossible to go back to living the good life even if we wanted to. We must always ask ourselves where we end up, continually giving in to these seemingly trivial deviations from what we know to be right, knowing full well how gradually it is possible to go from bad to worse, like cancer. Therefore, we must be careful on “the slippery slope”, because before we know it, we may lose the will or even the ability to live a good life again. Have you ever read Oscar Wilde's classic,Or picture of Dorian Gray,Let's see what can happen to those who decide to leave life morally.

Do we need a moral code to keep us sane and happy and to give meaning to our lives? Do we create this moral code ourselves or do we discover it ready-made in our conscience if we were lucky enough to have good and loving parents? Or is the universe indifferent to us and the way we live our lives? Is it possible to lead a happy, full and satisfying life without or only with a moral code that gives us discipline, structure and meaning?

Juvenal (c. 60—c. 130 EC)He is the greatest of the Roman satirists. His 16 satires are bitter denunciations of Rome's immorality and social injustice. He is an outraged moralist bent on changing the world. Hypocritical morality, criminals in high office, the vulgarity of the nouveau riche, the right of aristocratic families, unbridled greed and dishonesty, the shameless treatment of the poor, the cult of money, fortune hunters and fakes. friends are among their main targets. him exerting an enormous influence on the Western satirical tradition.

Rome was no longer a republic, but a thinly disguised dictatorship, with no need for political involvement, since everything was decided by the emperors, four of whom were pathologically insane: Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, and Commodus.

The result was that people had to fend for themselves with free or cheap grain and escapist food at the Games, keeping them distracted while Imperial Rome continued to do what empires always do: loot subject nations and call it Pax. . as the Roman master stylist and historian Tacitus once sourly put it,“They make loneliness; they call it peace. They make a desert and call it peace!

How many injustices and evils are committed with the character! How much evil is sanctioned by custom(Terence,the tormenting car, 839)! Custom, habit, and the status quo can blind us to social injustice simply because we get used to these conditions until they slowly become invisible to us until an artist, author, philosopher, or foreigner opens our eyes and shows us what we never before it happened. saw. before.

Or a later generation sees what has always been there and protests the injustice of these conditions. In our times, one might consider changing attitudes toward acceptance of same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, LGBTQ rights, Black Lives Matter, equal pay for women, minority rights, the rights of animals and the insistence that the wealthy and corporations pay their taxes as a matter of fairness.

Many today would see these earlier examples as moral progress over what was once considered morally wrong by those who are now seen as bigots and racial zealots who would force their views on everyone. Is there good and evil in the eyes of the beholder, or is there an objective good and evil that remains objectively right and wrong no matter what anyone or any century thinks? Is there a right and wrong target, and if so, who put it there?

God? But what if you don't believe in God? You can have a right and wrong goal without God like murder. steal, lie or tarnish the reputation of an innocent person? Could you have absolute morality based solely on the golden rule ofDo to others what you would like them to do to you?

Would you want someone to kill you or your loved ones, or wipe out your bank account, or lie about what was done to you behind your back and blame it on someone else? Would these be examples of what might objectively be considered morally wrong where you wouldn't need God? Or do you need God and Hellfire as deterrents, or are these deterrents actually effective in preventing crime?

Or does good and evil change over the centuries or does it always stay the same, no matter what an age thinks? Or does it differ from one culture to another, or only superficially, but its underlying fundamental principles remain constant?

How do we know what is right and what is wrong? Should we listen to our conscience, religion, society, authority, reason or emotion? If they conflict with each other, which one should we go with, or does it depend on the person and is it all subjective? Or do we ourselves find or invent what is right and what is wrong? And how do we know we're right if we do, or that we're not kidding ourselves or rationalizing our own desires?

Or is it enough that we honestly believe we're doing the right thing, as long as we're not hurting someone or some creature in the process? These are some of the basic questions that everyone asks when they want to live a life of integrity, and that the Greeks and Romans also asked, like all cultures.

There is also the growing perception today that some of our state governments or certain administrations of our federal government no longer believe that they should serve the people but only the rich and privileged, the giant corporations, big business, banking interests And they ignore the 99 percent.

This is demonstrated by the indifference of Republican politicians for the general welfare and the common good; his attack on our democratic institutions and regulatory agencies regarding the environment, clean air, and working conditions that protect workers; abolish Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; refusing to help flood-ravaged states because that would be socialism; gutting the civil and voting rights of black citizens and other people of color; targeting the LGBTQ community, Jews, same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, Black Lives Matter, Equal Pay for Women, and Animal Rights; exempt the rich and corporations from paying their taxes; ban free and open discussion of the history of American racism in the classroom because it might offend white supremacists; and support the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin by denying aid to Ukraine?

These are all moral issues that have to do with social injustice that undermines trust in our government and democracy. Why would the Republican Party do this? How would you defend this morally? Don't the GOP politicians realize that this would unleash endless misery on almost 300 million Americans? Or do they not care? And if they don't care, why are they in government and shouldn't they be removed from their posts?

His actions are alleged to have resulted in a loss of faith in the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, and the Courts of Appeals; that we live in a Big Brother police state where everything and everyone is closely monitored and controlled to serve the interests of the rich and powerful; that today we are fighting a new and dangerous enemy, as hostile as any foreign power our fathers and grandfathers fought against, a hostile power that is one of our own political parties, waging implacable class warfare against its own people .

This new social consciousness has raised questions about the structural ills of our society, the way our government is constituted, the way our own legal and financial systems have become so desperately politicized and corrupted by the wealthy and corporate interests and their darkmoney. they cause most of the problems that plague us today.

Some claim that so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few that this is nothing more than legalized theft, and that all of this is allowed by the Supreme Court that only serves the interests of the super rich and powerful.

Instead of addressing these structural errors and social ills caused by those responsible for them in government, those responsible blame the victims for these unfair conditions. Why do they do this? Because they will never change a system that they benefit from.

The free press and our religious institutions denounce what is happening, but those responsible simply turn a blind eye and deaf ears, so that cancer gets worse every day.

These are just a few examples of the social ethics and right and wrong issues of honest government that are rocking our nation today. Shouldn't there be laws that make it impossible to discriminate against any person or group, laws that are enforced? Can the religious convictions of some be a disguised form of fanaticism towards others?

Should laws always favor corporations, businesses, and the wealthy who victimize the overwhelming majority of Americans, for whose rights and well-being this country was founded?

Is a view of morality moral if it denies the rights of others?

Is a political party moral if it inflicts unspeakable suffering on its own people?

Should the government ignore the poor and do what the rich say?

Can you have an honest government without outdated values ​​and morals?

Are all people equal before the law, or are the rich and powerful “more equal” than others?

And when conditions got so pitiful, did that party lose its moral right to rule a nation? Or is this all just leftist propaganda?

Do you have a position on any of these issues?

Terence (190-159 BC), was a former slave with a deeply humanist worldview. His plays, based on the Greek plays of Menander, lack the popular appeal of Plautus, but are written for a more refined audience and resemble parlor comedies but are filled with deep humanity.

Dramatization and critical thinking.

The use of role playing can promote critical thinking. In this series, I get into the spirit of these Latin quotes and suggest discussion suggestions that assume these quotes are correct.

However, I urge you to read them and their comments against the grain, keeping what is said at a distance, neither accepting nor rejecting. them, but simply by suspending judgment, considering and evaluating what is presented to them for critical judgment.

Some readers may find these quotes strange to modern ways of thinking, but find them an interesting way of looking at morality. Others may see this Roman perspective as neither right nor wrong, but just different and consider it "equal time" to modern views.

Others will see them as old-fashioned, quaint, even old-fashioned in some cases, while others may find them to have common sense about what morality should be.

Keep an open mind, the essential first step to critically evaluate before accepting or rejecting what these quotes say.

Sometimes I can offer alternative theories that can also explain what is being discussed or even play devil's advocate, a role that can help spark an internal debate in each reader about the veracity of these quotes and their implications.

Consider the assumptions or reasons, explicit or implicit, on which an ethical view is based and whether you accept or reject these assumptions and why. Ask yourself if your reasons for accepting each date are natural or supernatural, secular or religious, and if it would matter and why.

What would be the counterarguments to the objections that you could raise, and are these objections of a valid or fallacious nature?

Are your objections facts, value judgments, explanatory theories, or metaphysics, and consider whether this would have anything to do with the strength of the argument?

How would you prove and disprove the various claims made? And finally, would you be able to apply the same kind of critical assessment to your own view of morality?

Domestic examples of vice corrupt us faster and faster when they subdue the minds of great leaders. A bad example at home corrupts all the more quickly the more authoritatively it enters the soul.(Juvenal,parodies, 14, 31). How many never had a chance to be good because of a bad house or neighborhood? The bad example of the parents can corrupt a child so unhappy from the cradle.

It's easy to judge when someone didn't grow up near a river with crocodiles. You have two individuals: one grows up in a tough environment, the other in safe suburbs. The first leads a criminal life because of bad company; the other leads an idyllic existence. The first makes a mess of your life; the second becomes a model citizen. Does virtue lack the opportunity to be bad? Was he the first person convicted from the beginning for the bad example?

Later, these two individuals die and, before their Creator, await God's judgment. How will the Lord judge them? Will he give the former some slack while the other was never tempted and led a charmed life, or would he just judge them on their lives, regardless of where they grew up? If you were God, howyoujudge them? Is God more open and impartial than we are, or does he follow the book?

But how do you explain the exceptions of those who grew up in a bad environment and don't turn to crime or become good citizens, or those from good families with wonderful parents in a good neighborhood who become criminals? Is it nature or nurture?

Or are some just born evil and can't help it because that's how they're programmed, and others are born with a temperament that makes it virtually impossible to commit crime and are never tempted to do anything wrong? Is this kindness or temperament?

He fed on his disability and lived by disguising it. Addiction grows strong by staying hidden(Virgilio,georgicas, 3, 454). Fresh air and sunshine are the best disinfectants for what ails the body, the spirit, and the government. That's why we have public accountability and fancy laws to make sure corruption never happens. Not to hold people accountable is to invite all kinds of mischief because human nature is weak and needs to be protected from itself.

This is especially true when it comes to money and there is no public oversight that only encourages political corruption, black money, bribery and kickbacks. That is why we have a system of checks and balances, each state power watching over the others, and a free press presiding over all of them, so that the three powers do not conspire against the people.

At that point, a nation becomes a plutocracy where press freedom is our only hope, and for that very reason, is relentlessly attacked by that same corrupt administration when held to account.

Virgil (70-19 BC), the greatest epic poet of Rome, met Maecenas, a celebrated patron of the arts and a personal friend and adviser to the Emperor Augustus. His masterpiece isAeneid, which glorifies Rome, chosen by fate to subdue and civilize the Mediterranean world. He celebrates the heroic struggle that led to the founding of Rome: Aeneas the Trojan escapes the Greek sack of Troy and, after many wanderings, reaches Italy, where he becomes the ancestor of the founders of Rome.

It is also a meditation on the tragic nature of human existence (tears are at the center of human existence) and the exhaustion, agony and broken dreams that come with all life. Shortly after Virgil's death, theAeneidit became the school textbook of the myth of the founding of Rome.

Well, all faults are lighter in the open air. The vice weakens when exposed to the open air.(Seneca,moral cards, 56. 10). So why is so much government business done behind closed doors? What are these politicians trying to hide? If they are doing the work of the people, why not always include the press, essential if we want an honest government? When there is so much money at stake, doesn't it make sense that no government business can be carried out without these sessions being televised, aside from giving reporters carte blanche to go anywhere, even to private sessions behind closed doors?

Or do these politicians have something to hide?

There are limits to virtues and vices. There are some vices that border on the virtues(Senecamoral cards, 120. 8). An example of this would be doing the right thing for the wrong reason out of selfishness or some other selfish motive. If we help someone because we want that person to be grateful to us so that we can control him in the future, it is true that we have done a good deed, but for a dishonorable reason, and we have dishonored ourselves. Or was it really a good deed or a selfish deed?

We should help someone simply because that person needs our help, not to be on the six o'clock news. It is the intention, not the action, that determines whether an action is good or not, at least on the part of the person who practices it, since the intention is the soul of an action,

Vices approach us under the name of virtues. Disguised as virtue, vice captures the soul(Seneca,moral cards, 45. 7). Continuing with the previous quote, if we help others just to further our own interests or reputation as a “good person”, are we really a good person or a selfish hypocrite? If we give millions to a university to control its curriculum, or if we are nice to people for having them in our pockets, are we just snakes in the grass? The foundations of morality should not be those of Tammany Hall, where,holding hands palettes, One hand washes the other, and politics is mere reciprocity. If we are driven by self-interest, are we kidding ourselves into thinking we are good, or is that too strict an interpretation of a good deed?

For I say that he perished, whose shame certainly perished. I consider him lost who has lost his shame(Plautus,the two bachies, 485). This and the next five quotes have to do with "shame" as the main reason for not doing evil. What would people think of me and my family if I embarrassed myself and them by doing something embarrassing? This loss of face was a major deterrent against wrongdoing in the ancient world, as it is today in so-called "shame cultures" as opposed to "guilt cultures", at least that's the generally accepted theory. .

Some may be deterred from making mistakes by shame or guilt, or both, and some may not even be able to tell the difference, so intertwined are the two motivations. Shame works like a taboo that prevents people from doing something wrong, and some would argue that anything that does that is a good thing.

Others would dismiss shame as a primary reason for not doing harm for fear of being found out. Others would dismiss guilt as the main reason for not doing evil, since one fears punishment in this life or the next.

Doing good simply because it is right or for God and not wanting to offend him in any way are, for some, far more valuable motives.

Do people behave morally because their society tells them what is moral, or does society tell them what is moral becauseit ismoral? But how would that society know?

If, on the contrary, you think that what your society teaches as moralit isreally immoral, as Huckleberry Finn seems to think about his society's view of slavery, you start to become a mature moral person even though you're still young.

He chooses to obey his conscience over his society which he has always been taught to obey and is even willing to go to hell for his belief due to his friendship with slave Jim who happens to be black.

Mark Twain's novel is a profound meditation on the primacy of individual conscience over social beliefs. It is a work of art comparable in moral grandeur toAntigoneby Sophocles to the extent that he speaks of the inviolability of human conscience, the essence of true morality.

Imagine a child who follows his conscience despite incurring his society's disapproval, moral damnation, and eternal punishment, and in doing so displays more independence of mind and moral courage than any would-be adult in his racist society.

Should we disobey our conscience when the authorities tell us that we should obey them because they know better and that we are just being stubborn and proud?

How would someone know that they are right and not those in authority? Because someone is convinced that he is, although in Huck's case he still doesn't understand that his society is racist as an adult reader would.

This is the inner drama of Joan of Arc's soul, as described in George Bernard Shaw's play,Saint Joanna. Should I follow his conscience or authority, the tradition and ancient customs of his tribe?

Follow authority and stay on the safe side, where there is safety in numbers, but give up your conscience, or stand alone in obedience to what you know to be right, as Socrates had done at his trial eighteen centuries before, as described in Plato's Dialogue,I'm sorry?

Plautus (c. 255-184 BC)he was Rome's leading comic playwright, whose raucous farces are full of slapstick and good-natured mockery of Roman conventions. His works, adaptations of older Greek originals, were immensely popular and his songs resembled musical comedies. They are also virtually the only surviving source of colloquial Latin.

Wretched shame never returns to grace. Once lost, shame never comes back.(Publius Sirus,maxims, 507). Shame can never be taken back, because once it's gone, it's gone forever. It's like losing your innocence and being banished from the Garden of Eden, never to return. Therefore, one must harbor this feeling of shame if it keeps him on the right track to remain a good person. Anything that helps someone do that is a good thing. That's true?

There is hope of salvation where shame censors man. There is hope for someone scolded by shame(Publius Sirus,maxims, 644). This presupposes that one is fundamentally decent so that, even when tempted, he can overcome temptation out of that feeling of shame, which some see as a God-implanted instinct to help maintain morality.

Others would see it as a socially conditioned reflex designed to reinforce group solidarity.

Others claim that it is just another name for willpower, while others feel that it is only the grace of God that helps someone at such times.

Could any of these explanatory theories be tested empirically, and if so, which one and how could it be tested without at the same time arguing in a circle, assuming in the explanation exactly what it is trying to prove?

On the other hand, if you thought you couldn't prove any of these theories, would that matter, since it would be enough to live the good life and not worry about why you were able to?

Shame cannot be taught, it can be born. Shame must be innate; can't be taught(Publius Sirus,maxims, 501). The opinion is sometimes heard that some people are beyond shame and will stop at nothing to do what they want. They act on impulse or instinct as they never learned self control as children due to permissive parenting practices so society must simply tolerate their behavior as they are beyond hope and redemption.

Others argue that these parents were never negligent in trying to raise their children properly, but were unable to curb their tendencies without medication, professional advice, or a combination of both. What must these parents be like who, despite their best efforts, feel powerless to raise a child they love but remains an enigma?

Because more people avoid being banned out of shame of sinning than out of good will. Shame more than virtue prevents men from making mistakes(Seneca,moral cards, 83. 19). While virtue may be the unwillingness to do evil, perhaps only the saints have reached such a pinnacle of perfection. For many it is shame that comes to their rescue, but in one's life it really doesn't matter what the reason is as long as one refrains from doing evil and leads a good life.

Also, in matters like this, one's ignorance is bliss because the human heart is a mystery whose depths will never be fathomed, and therefore one need not worry about such matters but simply live at peace with oneself. After all, it may well be that shame is a blessing in disguise for keeping one humble in one's own eyes by not always being able to meet one's expectations of one's ability to avoid harm.

What the law does not prohibit, shame prohibits. Shame prohibits what the law does not prohibit(Seneca,trojan women, 334). The law deals only with crimes committed. You cannot discover the hidden intentions of planning a crime. If the law does not expressly prohibit certain actions, shame can act as an effective deterrent, because shame is personal and can be even more effective in preventing someone from committing a crime than the law itself.

No one guilty of a crime is acquitted by his own trial. A guilty conscience never sets a man free(Juvenal,parodies, 13. 3). A guilty conscience can only be assuaged by confessing his guilt, asking for forgiveness, rewarding the offended party, and accepting whatever punishment is necessary.

Conscience is an inner voice, an innate guide to righteous living. Anything that interferes with obeying that voice will lead to continued guilt and inner disharmony. Obey your conscience and everything will be fine, while disobeying it will unleash the tortures of the damned.

Macbethis the classic commentary on this vision of objective good and evil and a case study of the psychological disintegration of a couple who transgress this law of nature by killing King Duncan.

Some believe in "natural law," a moral sense of right and wrong implanted in human beings by God as an expression of his divine will. If man goes against his conscience, he goes against something fundamentally basic in his nature, and inMacbeth,his wife falls into madness going against human nature itself.

Others see consciousness as the internalization of society's norms through the superego through years of social conditioning.

All we have in life are theories.

Without law, the punishment is conscience. Conscience does not need a law to punish itself(Publius Sirus,maxims, 194). Conscience is something innate or implanted by God, or the result of social conditioning, but whatever it is, it is a powerful presence, a force of nature, which will not give peace to those who do not follow its dictates. There is no need for human laws to punish anyone because conscience itself is like the Greek Furies that do not give the offender truce.

(So ​​hideous was the hideous appearance of the Furies onstage at the premiere ofEumenidesby Aeschylus children in the audience were said to have fainted and a pregnant woman had a miscarriage).

There's also the famous story mentioned above of how moral guilt drives Raskolnikov, the murderer of an old woman, into a virtual confession to the police inspector in Dostoevsky's psychological thriller,crime and Punishment.

And then there's Coleridge's Supernatural.rhyme of the old sailor, plagued by remorse, confesses his guilty story to passersby in his search for forgiveness in a timeless recital of repetition compulsion.

Oh silent cannon of consciousness! Conscience is the silent torment of the soul.(Publius Sirus,maxims, 490). Conscience is an internal accuser that, like Banquo's image at the party, remains silent, but for Macbeth that same silence screams to everyone that he has done wrong and must confess his guilt or he will never find peace. .

It is the greatest punishment for the wrong done. The biggest punishment for doing something wrong is knowing that someone did something wrong.(Seneca,angry, 3, 26, 2). I thought I heard a voice shout: “Don't sleep anymore! Macbeth kills the dream" - the innocent dream, the dream that ties the tattered sleeve of care, the death of everyday life, the painful bath of work, balm for wounded minds, the second course of great nature, the main food at the party of life

The conscience will take revenge on us through nightmares, depressions and psychosomatic illnesses that will pursue us to the ends of the earth, because no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to escape from ourselves.

Conscientia mille testicles. A conscience is worth a thousand witnesses(Quintilian,making a loudspeaker, 5. 11. 41). Conscience is so essential to a person's peace of mind that he would rather have his approval than a thousand character witnesses of his name, or, for that matter, would rather live with the accusations of a thousand false witnesses than his own guilty conscience. would point out outside. an accusing finger

Imagine someone in high political office who made a mistake but fiercely denies it, but then becomes progressively erratic for someone who is supposedly innocent. The truth will come out one way or another.

My conscience is more important to me than what others say. My conscience means more to me than the opinion of men.(Cicero,Letters from Atticus, 12. 28). No matter how many may slander me, it's like I know I'm innocent. It is true that I may not like it when many testify falsely against me, but it is a little irritating if I know that I am innocent and can draw strength and comfort from that inner voice.

The darkness contains evil itself. From a bad subject, you will shade those who are in love with you(Seneca,moral cards, 97. 12). Someone who has made a mistake is so terrified of conscience that he begins to suspect that the same shadows hide their accusers or avengers, beginnings of incipient madness. The person projects into the physical world the demons that are devouring his own vital organs.

A person is powerless to silence what they know to be the truth, because conscience is the only witness that matters and will never remain silent until a person admits their guilt not only to themselves but also to the world and is punished for what they do. what have you done. . .

How difficult it is not to give away a crime with a look. How difficult it is for the face not to betray guilt!(Ovidio,Metamorphosis, 2, 447). Such a powerful inner voice is conscience that it can even affect one's body language, mannerisms, and facial expression, unless one is a consummate actor and can hide the inner turmoil caused by the suppression of this repressed guilt.

Surely it is a deep ignorance not to know that you are sinning. It is the depth of ignorance not knowing that someone does something wrong(Publius Sirus,maxims, 193). How can someone not know that they have done something wrong unless they are schizophrenic, so Personality A doesn't know what Personality B is doing? Or someone knows but doesn't care, like in Robert Louis Stevenson's book.o Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide,whose conscience was turned so bad by potions that he was turned to stone.

The one who prolongs the hour of fair life, the peasant waits until the river goes down. Postponing the good life is like waiting for a river to pass(Horacio,epistles, 1. 2. 41). Never Gonna happen! It is like that cry of anguish of the young Saint Augustine before deciding to reform: "Lord, make me chaste, but not yet!"

The “Now” is all we have as human beings. The past is memory and the future is hope.

This brief present moment is the eternal gate to the lasting. Get in now.

The right life is just a speck in an eternity of non-being. You may not exist tomorrow, so live today; start your life of living well today, because tomorrow is an ever distant mirage that will never come! Lust is not good enough in the drama of life, but the will alone. Dare to live now and become the person you want to be, because tomorrow you could be dead!

Sera numquam est ad bonos mores via. It is never too late to become a good person.(Seneca,agamemnon, 242). Augustine is quoted as saying:The Mercy of the Lord Between the Bridge and the Fountain:The mercy of the Lord (can be found) between the bridge and the stream.

Even suicide bombers can be saved if they ask for forgiveness even when they fall off the bridge. Life is full of second chances until the bitter end. Open your heart and say yes! It is never too late to be a good person. Just ask, and life is ready to envelop you.Don't despair!Never despair!

Should someone who committed suicide be prosecuted? Have those who have taken their own lives been driven to such extremes that they lost their minds without even realizing what they were doing?

Remember the scene of Ofelia's burial invillageafter losing her mind when, but for the king, she would have been denied Christian burial and pebbles rained down on her body as she was lowered slowly to the ground to impress those present with the horror of what she had done?

Are suicides viewed with more compassion today than in times past, because we now know more about the mind thanks to Freud and depth psychology? If there is a heaven, could these poor wretches be there too? Certainly, God is more merciful than those who are always too willing to condemn someone to Hell without knowing that person's life story.

The beginning of salvation is the knowledge of sin. The beginning of salvation is the admission of error.(Seneca,moral cards, 28. 9). Being in denial gets no one anywhere, but if someone humbles themselves by admitting their mistake, the healing process has already begun.

The person has taken a great first step in overcoming denial, owning up to their mistake, apologizing, and making amends. The person has begun to turn his life around and is on the road to recovery and moral health. A counterexample of someone almost getting there but not making it is the soliloquy "Oh, my offense is malicious" by King Claudius, Hamlet's uncle, who murdered Hamlet's father.

Oh, my offense is strong, it smells like heaven;
It has the oldest primary curse on 't,
The murder of a brother. please i can't
Though the inclination is as sharp as the will:
My strongest guilt defeats my strong intention;
And, like a man who doubles in business,
I'm on pause, where should I start?
And both are neglected. And if this cursed hand
They were thicker than he was with his brother's blood,
There's not enough rain in sweet skies
To wash it snow white? . . . . . .
So I will look up;
My fault has passed. But oh what a way of praying
Can you serve my turn? Forgive me my disgusting murder?
That can not be; since I'm still possessed
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, my own ambition and my queen.
Can someone be forgiven and retain the offense?
In the corrupt chains of this world
The golden hand of offense can drive justice,
And often the evil prize itself is seen
Buy the law: but it is not so high;
There is no shuffling, there is the action.
In its true nature; and ourselves forced,
Even the teeth and the forehead of our faults,
To give evidence. what then? what's left?
Try what repentance can: What it can't?
However, what can be when one cannot repent?
O miserable state! O chest black as death!
Oh calloused soul, struggling to be free,
More engaged art! Help, angels! Do an essay!
Bow down, stubborn knees; and, heart with strings of steel,
Be soft like the sinews of a newborn baby!
Everything can be fine.

Honesty is praised and praised. The world praises goodness and then lets it freeze(Juvenal,parodies, 1. 74). Frank Wills, a security guard, denounced a break-in at the Watergate complex in 1972, appeared on every talk show to tell his story, was universally lauded as a hero, and died in poverty at the end of his life. .

Honestly, I would rather have lost than embarrassingly won. I'd rather lose with honor than win with disgrace(Publius Sirus,maxims, 527). Candidate A can dishonorably win high public office, spread the word to party leaders to suppress old-fashioned voting in the parts of the country most likely to vote for the other candidate, and no one will know, but decide not to. do it. like this and lose, butHe is the owner of your destiny and the captain of your soul.. This is a great moral achievement. Inner integrity and self-esteem are the only thing that matters in your life.

Candidate B faces the same situation, but chooses to do it, wins, knows he didn't deserve to win, and also feels like it doesn't matter. In fact, he has the audacity to claim that candidate A's party cheated and that candidate B would otherwise have won by an even larger margin.

The world, knowing nothing of his deception, celebrates his "achievement" like a great man! Virtue has nothing to do with public recognition and everything to do with one's state of mind.

He who is good in himself must be called bad. Someone is bad when he is good himself(Publius Sirus,maxims, 357). In the work of T. S. Eliot,murder in Cathedral,Archbishop Thomas Becket confronts the devil as a tempter, who hints at the possibility of martyrdom for an unworthy reason: enduring fame as a martyr for God.

Becket immediately rejects this temptation for this reason: to be martyred for fame would be the greatest betrayal of his principles, since it would meandoing the right thing for the wrong reason.He dies a martyr for the right reason: for his ideal of humble submission to God's will and for rejecting the idea of ​​dying for fame. Living by principle, dying by principle, without any mixture of self: this is a noble life, the life of immaculate virtue and deepest integrity.

It's easy to be good where what is forbidden to be is removed. It's easy to be good when there are no obstacles(Ovidio,inconvenience, 5. 14. 25). Being a good person has to cost something. You can't do this cheap. If being good is so easy it's like falling off a log, well, maybe it's not being good at all, but just a matter of temperament, or that you're still in a state of innocence in the Garden of Eden and not. I still don't have the ability to be bad.

It doesn't mean you're not helping people or showing kindness. You certainly are when you help them when you'd rather be doing something else, but you've gone the extra mile and helped them, and in doing so, you've done an even better piece of work, becoming an even better person in the world. process, but without glorifying yourself in the process.

It is the obstacles that you overcome to be good or to do good that make a good deed even better, because by fighting with yourself you grow, you become less selfish, you reach out to others when you don't feel inclined to do so.

Kindness is not the best of the worst. To be better than the worst is not to be good(Seneca,moral cards, 79. 11). Getting a D- on a test instead of an F is hardly an endorsement of your academic abilities. You are still precariously positioned on a precipice. The secret to getting good grades is to forget to get them, master the material, and your grades will take care of themselves!

Never measure yourself by the worst, but only by the best, and you will be in your own element. But while you're up against more worthy opponents, try to overcome even that.

Be your best, but not to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by competing against others, but by competing against yourself. In fact, don't even think about competing. Do your best every day because you can't do better. Whatever you do, do it with all your might.

Frank Breslin is a retired high school teacher from the New Jersey public school system.

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