Saturday, March 10, 2012
A Death Of Virtue
Some of the Plains tribes shared a common broad view of virtue and ethics that were the underpinning of their society. Among the virtues central to several of these ethical systems were courage, generosity, and perseverance.
These virtues are not central to the belief systems of most Americans today and we are the worst for it. Can a child learn any word that over the course of his life will cause more pain and be more obscene in its application than the simple word "mine"?
I had the advantage of not being raised that way. In the fourth grade we started to play baseball at recess. Some days I would have to bring a bag with me to school to carry the gloves, because there were too many to carry in hand. Momma bought every usable glove that she could find in thrift stores for me to give to the boys whose families could not afford gloves for them. At a very young age I came to believe that the only legitimate reason to acquire possessions was so that one could give them away. I would be absolutely ashamed of myself to die as a wealthy person and would view doing so as sufficient evidence in and of itself to prove that I had failed in my life.
No object exists that is worth loving unless it has first drawn a breath. I work very hard to never love anything that has never had a pulse.
We have replaced the virtue of perseverance with the silly idea of "appearing to be happy." We have lost much in doing so. To get up every morning in the face of adversity is, and should be viewed as, heroic. Townes Van Zandt said that there are only two kinds of music, the blues and "zip-a-dee-do-dah." It does not really take any guts to sing zip-a-dee-do-dah, but it takes guts to sing the blues.
It takes even more guts to live them. Skipping is more fun than plodding. It is great to be able to skip now and then. Everyone deserves a little skipping time, but
society is maintained by those who plod. To plod is to persevere and to persevere is to prevail.
(Here is a picture of Red Feather after he learned to trust me enough to plod over the porch and join me in the living room at the Little House.)
Posted by Steve Edwards