Fun With Modern Sayings

Today I was thinking about modern sayings and how they really don’t make a lot of sense. We hear them all the time, either as bumper stickers or responses to common problems, but when put under analysis, these sayings are actually illogical.

1)   “Violence doesn’t solve anything/Violence isn’t the answer.”

Is it true that violence doesn’t solve anything? This attempts to bring up the sentiment that it’s good for people to work out their differences in a civilized manner. Certainly if all parties involved in a dispute are civilized, then violence makes little to no sense; violence between civilized persons would only seek to exacerbate the problem rather than solve it.

If, however, one person is civilized and the other person is uncivilized or unwilling to work out the differences, sometimes violence is the answer. If you witness a man beating up and robbing an old lady and you can’t reason with him, violence is the answer. Violence (physically apprehending the perpetrator would be a minimal use of violence, but violence nonetheless) does actually solve this problem. Violence solves the problem of the man beating up the old lady.

If we didn’t believe violence was ever the answer then we wouldn’t have police. Even the most ardent leftists in our country want police (the same cannot be said for the ardent on the right, who are Anarchists, but they are few and far between). But if violence is “never the answer” or “doesn’t solve anything,” then why have police? They have to use violence in order to apprehend an uncooperative suspect.

A better saying would be, “Violence should be the last resort.” This still shows that violence is never preferable, but is sometimes necessary in order to get the job done.

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From Virtue to Vice (part 3)

We now come to the 7 Vices, which have become virtues in the modern day. These are the things that traditionally have been viewed as the seven major categories for sin; though there are multiple sins, they can generally fit within one of these seven categories (and all fall under pride).

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From Virtue to Vice (Part 1)

Lately, conservative voices have been talking about how we’ve lost our “societal values” in the West. President Obama, alternatively, has announced how America has no right to promote its values overseas. What I’m struggling with on both sides, however, is the idea of using the word “values.”

The word “value” carries within it almost a subjective application; it is what one finds important for one’s own life. “Values” are what we as individuals, families, and communities hold to, but these are subject to change. We view “values” in terms of their usefulness; do they aid in achieving the end(s) that we want? We place different “values” on different objects; what is valuable to one may not be valuable to another. Thus, the very word “values” tends to lend itself toward a subjective stance.

This might be because “virtue” is almost an archaic word in the English language. We’ve made the two synonymous, but this is hardly the case. In Latin (where we get the two terms), “values” comes from the word valere, which can mean to be in good health or to be strong. The word for “virtue” is virtus, which means to be of strong character, or to have worth. In other words, to be “virtuous” in Latin means to be of worth. To have “values” simply means to adhere to the virtus.

Inherent within both claims is an objective and subjective claim. Virtue is the objective standard to which all humans are to strive. All humans are to attempt to be virtuous and lead lives in accordance with virtue. When our lives match up with virtue, then we are displaying our values, or the subjective aspect of our lives. How we apply the virtues will depend on the culture we are in. Thus, virtues are the objective and absolute source of morality whereas values are the manifestations of those realities within our personal lives.

So when we focus solely on “values” without an objective or absolute standard, we really remove the purpose of values. What this has led to, unfortunately, is a value-based society with hardly any virtues. If anything, we have taken the 4 Classical virtues and 3 Christian virtues and turned them into vices. These 7 virtues, three of which anyone can follow, are both truthful, and Scripturally supported.

If we want to redeem our culture then we must return to these seven virtues (or at least the 4 Classical virtues). Though there are more virtues than the 7, the 7 are the main virtues and in some way all other virtues are tied back to these 7. But what are they, why they are good, what is their scriptural support, and how are they now vices?

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