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Virtue is Strength

If you had to define virtue in one word it would be “strength.” In English we use the same root word when we say virility. Virility means a special kind of power. So does virtue.

The Stoic School teaches that strength is a good thing. This is basic to human nature and Nature in general. Nature rewards the strongest in a species with survival and progeny. Nature is a place of struggle. The earth is a place where all animals must exert constant activity to live and must exercise great strength to get ahead. Those who lose their energy fall behind and perish. 

Human society also rewards athletes of great strength or speed. You don’t find yourself wishing you were weaker, do you? 

But, the Stoic School teaches about a strength more powerful than muscles.

First, think about an army. History shows that the most athletic soldiers do not always win. A smaller army with better strategy and equipment often defeats a larger force. Why? Second, a runner or boxer who has beaten a certain opponent previously might lose to him during the Olympics because the opponent trained harder and kept a stricter diet. Third, a weaker army can rout a greater one when the stronger flees the battle field.  Fourth, The ancient play The Suppliants by Euripides illustrates a special kind of power. In the play, the women have no physical power to retrieve the bodies of their dead loved ones who were killed in a battle, because the victors wanted them to rot in the open and be eaten by animals, so what mysterious strength empowered the mothers, wives, and daughters to win?

Our cultural grandparents called the first kind of strength “Wisdom,” the second “Temperance,” the third “Courage,” and the fourth “Justice.”

1) Wisdom is “being smart,” “thinking things through,” “making good decisions.” 

2) Temperance is self-control, self-discipline, and the ability to choose the difficult path that is good rather than the easy paths that are bad.

3) Courage means fortitude, bravery in the face of danger and pain, and risking personal safety, wealth, and reputation in the interest of something more noble.

4) Justice is doing the right thing, recognizing a higher morality than even human laws, and successfully harmonizing with Nature rather than only reading and talking about it.

The Stoic School teaches that the purpose of human life is Virtue. 

Even in human society, Nature requires constant energy to live, to be healthy, to be wise, to control yourself, to be brave, and to be fair to all.

An evidence that Nature intends mankind to be virtuous is that Nature gave humanity the potential for all these strengths. We know of no other creatures with the potential to develop the four Cardinal Virtues as we mean them here. Nature has attributes that can only be understood by those who practice wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice. We live in Nature more and more only as we grow in Virtue more and more. 

Another indication that Virtue is our purpose in life is that virtues bind us in stronger friendship with our fellow citizens, our friends, and our family. We are political animals. Nature provides no other species with a social structure anything like human society. There are no other species with commerce, technology, musical instruments, clothing, conversations, etc. anything like human society. But, along with our need to socialize in our uniquely human way, we see that virtue is what binds us together in the bonds of good faith necessary to produce thriving human societies. Individuals who practice Virtue are bound with their friends in stronger bonds of friendship and are praiseworthy among their countrymen. Those who practice vice suffer in their public and private relationships.

We call Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice the Cardinal Virtues. They remind us of the cardinal directions North, South, East, and West. With only four directions you can get from wherever you are to wherever you need to be in two-dimensional space.  In life, you need a different dimension of directions – virtues.

With the Cardinal Virtues, you can get from any circumstance you are in to where you need to be. The four virtues form a coordinate system that surely navigates you through your entire life, with “magnetic north” being the Good. Whatever crisis or reversal befalls you, the way to maintain happiness and to get where you need to be is always a combination of these four virtues.

The mother of all the virtues is Gratitude. All virtues are a combination of Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice, and those Cardinal Virtues come from Gratitude. Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice are the natural response to gratitude for what Nature has done for us, what our friends have done for us, and what our country has done for us.

Russia vs USSR

by Cicero -

There is currently much ado about nothing regarding Russia vs the USSR. Conservative media often wonder why the left defended the USSR during the cold war while they now consider Russia like a great Satan. Here’s the reason.

Confusion comes from the logical fallacy known as “equivocation.” The Stoic School has explained for more than 23 centuries that equivocation is a common logical fallacy marked by giving a term more than one definition within the same argument. In the case of Russia and the USSR, the equivocation comes from how the left uses “Russia.”

Before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Russia was an Orthodox Christian monarchy, ethnically European, and culturally Western. After the Bolsheviks changed the social nature of Russia, they established the thoroughly Eastern Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – a communist paradise. This is the society that fought World War II as part of the Allies and then holocausted approximately 60 million Westerners. This USSR was the rival to the West during the Cold War. This communist empire was the reason generations of American children had regular drills in school to get under their desks in case the Soviet Union nuked us.

The USSR was communist, so it was loved by the left. That is not the case with Russia after the wall fell. Russia is a Western culture. They are not communist. They are not globalist. They are nationalist. That is why the left hates them.

The equivocation comes from the definitions the left gives to “Russia.” Russia is an ethnic identity and a geographical description. But the left uses “Russia” currently as the poster child for Western nationalism (aka anti-globalism) and they used “Russia” during the Cold War as the poster child for communism (aka globalism).

This is nothing new. The Stoic School has witnessed similar equivocation in the West regarding the Persians, the Meads, the Moors, ad nauseum.

Note well, the Russian people are thoroughly Western. Their Orthodox Christianity that traces back to the Apostles, their architecture, their education system that requires exposure to Plato and others, their Bolshoi Ballet, their Pushkin, their emphasis on technology, celebration of the human body via the Olympics, ad infinitum verify Russia is through and through Western.

Russia is now returning to its Western roots whereas the USSR was from Eastern and Mid-Eastern values. That is why the left loved the USSR and why they hate Russia today.

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