I want to add some things to my last post, Stoics on the Unity of Virtue.
1. I presented James (of the New Testament) as a perfectionist who says that we need to be perfect to deserve the label of “virtuous.” That’s only part of the story. In my post from a while back, Why I Dislike I John So Far, I present another side to James, a James who says that God meets imperfect people (all of us) wherever they are.
2. One thing that disturbs me is how I hate people. I continually take people’s moral inventory. “Evangelicals are bad because they do this.” “Liberals are bad because they do this.” I dislike people being smug and judgmental, who act as if they know what makes other people tick and critique them from their high-and-mighty pedestal, who put on airs as if they’re so much better than others.
But aren’t I being the same way when I critique them? Do I critique them out of love, out of a desire for them to change their ways and have a healthier outlook on life (like I have that myself!)? Or do I do so out of pride, a sense of superiority. “Yeah, I’m imperfect, but at least I acknowledge my faults,” I say to myself. Yeah, but does that make me virtuous? We’re all pretty much in the same boat, since we’re flawed creatures!
I want to assume that I’m more virtuous than those I criticize, and I get mad when I don’t get recognition and adulation for my good deeds, or lack of bad deeds. I flinch at being just part of the crowd. But maybe that’s what I am. Can I be content with that, trusting in God’s love to make me feel good about myself? Can I stop fretting about what everyone else is doing and focus on my own love for God and neighbor?
Don’t get me wrong: I will criticize evangelicals, liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, etc. in future posts. But I hope that I can do so without hating them, and that I can present positive ways to look at situations.