Hating vice

I think that the happiest way to live is generally to feel sorrow for the vices in others, and hatred for the vices in oneself.

I’m not always consistent with this. And there are times when I feel justified being inconsistent; some years ago I felt betrayed by a good friend, and I couldn’t bring myself to be sad or understanding about his bad actions, since allowing that emotional response would open the door for reconciliation and renewed friendship, which I was uninterested in, at least for as long as he thought he had done nothing wrong.

So when I examine how I live, I find there are exceptions to the rule, and I don’t fully know if those rare exceptions are justified or if I’m deceiving myself.

However, in the great majority of cases, we’re best served by grieving others‘ vices and hating our own.

That’s not to say that should be our entire emotional range either, of course. There are many more good things to celebrate and enjoy than bad things to dislike, but where there are bad things, this is my general guide.

It might feel appropriate to hate others’ vices, and that’s understandable, but that also puts us in a position of helplessness, because we never have more than indirect influence over how another person acts. It’s not fun to feel helpless. Feeling sadness for another person’s vices is more of a complete experience, not needing vengeance to complete itself.

Likewise it might feel appropriate to be sad about our own vices, but if that’s our whole response, it will also put us into a position of helplessness. To be sad, and only sad, about our own vice is to accept defeat. If there’s some active hatred or anger directed at our vices, it’s not a guarantee of beating them, but at least it means we still have some fight left in us. And when it comes to our own vices, whatever they may be, we should want to fight as hard as we can for as long as we can, with any means at our disposal. There is almost nothing more important.

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