Virtue… Gift or Curse???

It is said that mankind has been given the gifts of rational thought, reason and virtue. These gifts were given to no other creature upon this earth. Therefore, we are set above the rest and placed here in God’s own image to use these great gifts to rule over all other beings on this planet.
We were given the virtues of wisdom, honor, justice and temperance. The gift of wisdom was meant to give us the innate ability to recognize right from wrong, good from evil and the pure from the corrupt. Honor was bestowed upon us so that we may be true to one another and in our dealings with the lesser creatures upon this earth. Justice was granted to us so that we can decide to most virtuous course of action when faced with diversity and corruption. Finally, temperance was meant to give us patience and faith when we come face to face with these manifestations of evil.
We, as mankind, were given these gifts so that we may set an example in the world. We were meant to be the shining beacon in the darkness of the world. We were given these gifts to use and govern our lands. How is it then, that even the most pious among us has been seduced? We seem to lose the ability to tell right from wrong, good from evil and pure from corrupt. All of us at times in our lives are prone to be false to one another. We set aside justice for our own personal gain and we lose our patience and faith when we need to hold onto more than ever.
We claim that we do these things because of the influence of the devil. Satan is said to hold such sway that even the most devout among us is a sinner. It is further believed that Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we, as sinners are forgiven for our sins and may still enter heaven and be received by our lord God. I find it unlikely that the lord would have given us these gifts and then in turn, given us liberty not to use them.
We all know right from wrong. We know that it is wrong to lie, nevertheless we lie when it serves to make us appear better to our peers and fellows. We know that it is wrong to steal, yet everyone among us has stolen something in his or her lifetime. We are told that it is wrong to covet thy neighbor’s property, yet we live in a society that feeds off covetous minds. Our very society feeds off the sins that each of us commit on a daily basis. We are all guilty of gluttony, greed, lust and deceit.
We elect to office the worst there are among us, to represent us. Politicians are the epitome of ignorance, dishonor, injustice and intemperance. But, maybe they are the best to represent us. After all, in today’s society these seem to be the real virtues. Who among us feels that it is likely that a man that never lies, cheats, steals, misrepresents, is not greedy, ambitious, lustful and deceiving would ever manage to hold a high station in today’s society?
I am a liar. I tell small lies everyday. So do all of you who read this. I misrepresent myself every time I fill out a resume or interview for a job. I embellish my accomplishments to make myself appear greater than I am. I tell myself, as do all of you, that these lies do not hurt anyone. But again, I am lying to myself. They hurt all mankind. If everyone tells small lies everyday then who can believe who?
I have stolen. Never anything large, that is what I tell myself to justify it. I stole things when I was a kid and a teenager. Even today, I have picked up a pen that was sitting on a counter and put it in my pocket. We all have. How is that any different from stealing a large sum of money? Theft is theft when it comes to morality and virtue.
I am covetous. I desire to have that nice car that my neighbor drives. I want that big house or the fancy job title with all the pay and benefits. I want to be rich and have the fanciest of clothes, furniture and eat gourmet food every night. Everyone among us has desired such things.
I am lustful. I am far from being an angel in this respect. I have been with many women. Most men consider this a mark of pride. I must admit, I am often found to be proud of the fact that women find me attractive. I have taken advantage of it on many occasions. All men do. Women are not innocent of this either.
My point is that we live in a society today that makes it feel like it is acceptable to do these things. If you don’t believe me, turn on the TV. Watch any commercial and you will see sex used to sell everything from Toyotas to tampons. Gluttony is used to advertise our favorite restaurants. We watch movies and television shows that promote every sin in the book. Not only that, but we worship the actors and actresses that live some of the most sinful lives among us.
I am going to make another confession. After all my talk of sins and God, I am going to admit that I am an atheist. I do not believe in God. I do not believe in Jesus Christ as he was portrayed in the Bible. I do however believe that we as mankind were given these virtues and with them come responsibility. We are given the gift of rational thought and the ability to tell right from wrong. Do we use it to better the world? The answer is no. We use it to further our own greed and ambition to the detriment of the world. We are a cursed creature, not a blessed or gifted one.
However, I believe that each one of us has within ourselves the ability to overcome these passions and desires. We can use our gifts of virtue and rational thought to better the world and each other. First, we have to better ourselves.