Monday, 11 April 2011

Fidelity isn't the only overrated virtue

O, for the certainties of youth. The older I get the less didactic I become; the greyer the boundaries between right and wrong. Take the A-to-Z of virtues, from ability to zealousness and everything in between. There are occasions when they can’t be trusted to provide a road map to navigate life’s highway. Probably you have your own views on overrated virtues. Here are a few examples of mine.

Fidelity is the No.1 quality demanded of partners in a relationship. But this wasn’t always so – the capacity to build a home in which to bring up children was considered of a higher order. Constant infidelity will ruin a marriage but it’s a pity these days one mistake has the explosive potential to destroy a family.
Generosity – yes, it’s better to give than receive. And over time the recipient comes to hate their benefactor and the giver comes to despise the recipient of their charity.
Honesty. Tell the truth to the parents of an ugly baby and you won’t be speaking to them very soon.
Humility is a blessed quality some share with the saints but it wouldn’t have got Winston Churchill very far.
Independence is an admirable attribute but taken to an extreme it becomes pig-headedness, as in the case of an elderly relative refusing help.
Loyalty is fine as long as it’s not blind but the 20:20 variety. The person, cause, country, or whatever that arouses such passion should be worthy of the devotion.
Perseverance is at the heart of every great discovery. But there’s also a lot to be said for the advice: “If at first you don’t succeed, try something else.”
Prudence. If you take risk-avoidance too far, you’d hardly ever step out of doors and then only with an umbrella.
Temperance in all things is a sensible way to live. But if you want to learn from your mistakes and have fun at the same time, a little bit of excess now and again should do the trick.
Tolerance is the essential element to get along with families, neighbours, other countries. But there are some things just so wrong that cultural or religious differences offer no defence.

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