Virtue is Power

Thoughts on Virtue


9/9/20232 min read

The concept that "virtue is power" is both an ancient and deeply resonant idea, echoed in philosophies and spiritual teachings across the world. But the nuance that you must be capable of evil to be good adds a layer of complexity, challenging conventional narratives about morality and virtue.

Being virtuous isn't just about avoiding temptations or abstaining from the seven deadly sins—Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. It's about understanding these sins so profoundly that you could exploit them if you chose to, yet you actively choose not to. You decide to wield your power responsibly.

Consider Lust: The mere act of abstaining from porn is not the pinnacle of virtuous behavior. Instead, it's about evolving into a person who has the qualities—physical, emotional, intellectual—that make you attractive to others, thereby granting you the power to exploit Lust. Yet, in possessing this power, you choose restraint and meaningful connection over exploitation. This is where virtue transmutes into power.

It's the cultivation of self-mastery. Viktor Frankl once said, "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." This space is where true power resides. It's not just the capacity to do something; it's the cultivated wisdom to know when and how to do it—or to refrain from doing it altogether.

The same concept applies to the other sins. Take Greed. Becoming financially successful and gaining the kind of wealth that could easily be exploited for greedy purposes is a form of power. Yet, the virtue lies in your ability to handle this wealth with grace, benevolence, and a sense of duty to help others.

So, earning virtue is indeed a journey into the darker potentials of human nature. As a man, you're not just handed a moral compass and told to follow it. You forge it in the fires of temptation, trial, and potential exploitation. You learn how to be good by understanding deeply the mechanics of what could make you "bad." It's in that complex, gray zone of human potential that true virtue—and thus, true power—is cultivated. This is the kind of mature, earned virtue that transforms not just individuals but also communities and, potentially, generations.