I don’t think most people believe virtue is what is most important.
I don’t think that’s what most parents teach their children, not by example and not even by word. We tell them to decide their futures and resolve their problems by doing what will get them ahead in life, what will set them up with money, will leave them respected, will keep them safe. We don’t tell them to decide based on what will be best for the kind of person they are becoming, regardless of those other considerations.
I don’t think it’s what most teachers give their students. They want knowledge for us, skills, security, insight maybe, power and influence, but to see them extolling virtue is rare, in my experience.
I don’t think it’s what most leaders tell their followers. They tell us to get what’s owed to us, to get vengeance, to shame our enemies, to proclaim our greatness, but not to face up to what makes us bad people and try to be better. And I can understand that.
I think even religious leaders don’t try to make this case. They assume that we want what’s best for ourselves and our families, defined as vindication, satisfaction, future happiness.
It’s not what one coworker says to another. We encourage one another to pursue pleasure and protect our rights.
It’s not what most friends say when commiserating.
What if it were?