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The Desirable Beauty of Virtue in Plato’s Republic

In light of the above quote, it is interesting to note that Plato begins the Republic with the premise that living a virtuous life, however difficult it may be at times, brings happiness to the individual and to the community. (An idea foreign or even repugnant to many who live in the 21st Century.)  In fact, he equates what we might translate as justice, virtue, and/or excellence in English from one Greek term.

But over five thousand years later, in today’s United States, the usual understanding of  “justice” is ever evolving toward the latest group to be awarded victim status and their demands for reparations of some sort as social justice. I doubt that such an idea ever occurred to Plato.

Today, virtue signaling carries much more weight than virtue lived out. Actually, the lived out version has almost been forgotten. If mentioned in secular society, “virtue” is regarded with the same the same red faced tittering usually saved for stories about one’s aging maiden aunt who never quite fit in with the real world of fun, games, and good times.  Perhaps, elderly women drinking tea together in the afternoon might mention virtue without blushing, but both cool kids and adults  “know for a fact” that it’s a poisonous term that’s totally incompatible with happiness.  

Interestingly enough our word “virtue” came to the English speaking world from the Latin word, vir, for men.  Today, however, most men would cringe at being called virtuous even though it originally referred to manly valor. Virile is probably the most common English word derived from vir, although virago is reserved for a woman who acts bravely – like a man. It used to refer to women like Judith or Joan of Arc, but now is associated with a difficult woman, full of anger, who adopts masculine actions.             

In this century, many reserve the word “excellence” for either athletic or musical performances; it would never occur to  most writers, readers, or speakers to associate it with virtuous actions or decisions. 

Only to the extent that we’re virtuous, are we able 

to thrive in our human relationships.”  

*Dr. John Cuddeback

Fortunately, for us sceptics who silently seethe as we watch dishonest people thrive, grow rich, and become famous even though they proudly show no interest in living a virtuous life, **Plato  also thoroughly defends his premise in later chapters.  He does so, not only on the personal level, but on the level of the city-state. Thus, the great effort required to live virtuously benefits both the person and society as a whole. In fact, Plato posits that not only does living a life of virtue bring happiness; it is happiness. 

One after another Plato records the objections and examples from those ancient Greeks who questioned his premise. Their challenges resemble similar arguments that come to our minds as we read Plato. The conversations are presented as a debate, not a series of  ***ad hominem attacks. Plato is both thorough and eloquent as he elaborates and explains his ideas. 

My favorite part is where he refutes those who think that if they are clever enough to disguise their self serving ways in order to have the reputation for being virtuous while still lying, cheating, and stealing, can find the same level of happiness as the man who actually does act justly. It almost sounds like Plato had been watching the shenanigans of some of the current denizens of our nation’s capital. 

Plato ices his cake with his explanation that not only does the self-serving man not enjoy true happiness, even his supposed pleasure of living out wrong desires does not provide the satisfaction he seeks. It’s easy to see his point if one has ever watched a friend or family member descend from pursuing the escape of pain to addiction to the depths of despair and loss that often end in suicide. Or, if one observes the beautiful desire for sexual fulfillment being used selfishly until it degrades the whole culture.  As time goes by, practices that were once perversions become accepted. Then applauded. And finally defended legally to the extent that those who abstain must keep their beliefs private to avoid litigation, fines, and possible imprisonment. Meanwhile, the perpetrators walk around still somewhat dissatisfied and disappointed.

Frankly his book inspired me more than many lectures and homilies about ethicial behavior from Christian or Jewish leaders. These two Greeks  who lived and wrote centuries before the coming of Christ figured out logically the practical aspects of living happily even without the Jewish and Christian concepts and books that are generally considered inspired. I am amazed.

When asked how he values justice in Book II, Socrates replies: 

I myself put it among the finest good, 

as something to be valued 

by anyone who is going to be blessed with happiness, 

both because of itself and because of what comes from it.

 

 

* Dr. John Cuddeback is a Professor of Philosophy at Christendom College and author of True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. Some of these ideas came from two of his lectures: Plato’s Republic and The Discovery of Virtue.

**Plato wrote the book, but most of the dialogue and ideas come directly from Socrates, his mentor. So one could easily attribute this work to either philosopher since Socrates did not leave any written record.

***”When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” Socrates

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IV

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Portrait from the early 1940’s

When Sunny succumbed to hepatitis, the Dallas School System allowed teachers one day of sick leave for every month of teaching. Most employees found it quite generous as they often accumulated six to nine days of sick leave every year which could be changed into money at the end of their employment.

For Sunny, the four days of earned leave were used up before she even entered the hospital. So she found herself with absolutely no income for living expenses,  much less the quickly mounting medical bills. All of this when she had just purchased a house and a car on credit,  and was just starting a savings account for Hard Times.

But Hard Times knocked her down before she was ready and she was too sick to fight back. The “easy living” the family had expected after graduation evaporated even while new debts increased her needs. 1954 was years before the Federal and State Governments had crafted their “poverty solutions” for families in a financial bind. Fear and despair almost eradicated all hope.

But God was in the picture. He just used other people’s hands and pocketbooks to provide for widows and orphans:

  1. Her mother left her own home and closed down her own affairs to move to Dallas to help care for Sunny and her grandchildren.

  2. Her sister saved enough out of her family’s expenses to send three checks during the months of illness and recovery.

  3. A Sunday school class at her new church arranged for one of the members to come every Monday and Thursday with a meal prepared for the whole family and a bag full of additional groceries.

  4. A group of friends from New Mexico “passed the hat” around and collected several hundred dollars to help with expenses. Then two couples drove to Dallas to deliver it in person. While visiting, the men also took care of several honey-do type repairs that needed attention. Then they drove the thirteen-hour-one-way trip back to Lea County.

  5. The teacher of the younger son’s Sunday school class asked if he could take him out for a movie one Saturday. When they returned home, the son wore new shoes and carried a  bag with a new shirt, a new pair of trousers, and three new pairs of socks.  Of course, what excited him the most was the movie he had gotten to see and attention from an adult male.

  6. All the neighbors on the street made sure the sixteen-year-old girl had all the babysitting jobs she could possibly handle. Most of those earnings bought gas for their car, which at that time was about twenty-five cents a gallon.

  7. A woman in the church provided the daughter with hand-me-downs that were more expensive and better quality than any clothes she had previously worn.

  8. New Mexico’s senior senator had earlier appointed the older son as a page to the US Senate. So he was living in a home with other pages at a nominal fee, going to a private school at no cost, and earning a small salary, not to mention the extraordinary experiences at the US Senate.  While still in high school, he managed to send a little bit of money home every month. (By the way, Sunny’s in-laws had helped Senator Chaves with free room and board when he first ran for office decades earlier and this was his generous re-payment for their hospitality.)

Probably there were many other gifts and extensions of kindness that I am not aware of. But at least this helps people understand a real-life example of providing for the needy in a way that builds self esteem and bonds of friendship in both giver and receiver. Without the Byzantine rules, restrictions or admonitions of our current welfare system, each gift encouraged the family members to use it wisely, living up to all opportunities that became available. While those were difficult times, each one grew emotionally and spiritually because of the people who helped them, in effect putting their money where their mouths were and saying, “I believe in you.” And, no doubt, the givers were also rewarded for their generosity.

It was so much more compassionate and efficient than our current system that fosters a permanent underclass of third and fourth generation welfare recipients. These people have become people who are poor, not just currently broke, because they have neither incentive nor belief they can honestly do any better. What a loss for the whole country!

Copyright 2018 by Kaye Fairweather

Versatile Blogger Award

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Photograph of Albert Einstein’s desk at Princeton April, 1955 by Ralph Morse 

Because Holly from The Holly Tree Tales kindly nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, I get to talk about my self a little (Win #1) and then nominate other writers for this same award (Win #2).

Win #1: Here are all the tidbits you’ve always wanted to know about me, aka Twinkletoes.

  1. While most bloggers seem to like to write, I absolutely hate it. A blank piece of paper (or screen) makes my brain freeze and often causes a sudden  overwhelming compulsion to clean the shower grout with a Q-tip — again. The only reliable cure is to chain myself to the desk. The reason I blog is that I truly love to HAVE WRITTEN.  Once it’s done, I’m deliriously happy until it’s time to do it again.

  1. I constantly delude myself that I really am organized despite the slovenly piles of paper, books, letters, and notes that frequently park themselves on top of my desk. I keep explaining to all the Neatniks around that it’s really a novel form of horizontal filing, advanced well beyond the common vertical method. When that ploy fails, I fall back on a picture of Einstein’s desk, see above, as well as his words of comfort:

     “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are

    we to think of an empty desk?”  

       Just to keep my personal reputation intact, the rest of the house is

       straight and clean. My desk is the troublemaker.

  1. My worst addiction is a truly terrible one, apparently incurable. At one time, I had floor-to-ceiling bookcases, each full of books in my office, in my living room, in my den, and in my bedroom. (Don’t tell anyone, but I also had smaller ones in the upstairs bedrooms for the children and guests). At least once, I purged most of them by giving boxes of books to family, friends, and several car loads to the local library. At that time, I honestly believed that I could live with the precious few I had left. However, books still follow me home on many occasions, so the collection is growing again. Needless to say, my favorite haunt continues to be a good bookstore that also sells coffee.

  1. I’ve recently fallen in love with the Bulletproof Diet/way of life. Right now I don’t much care whether it’s exactly what the doctor ordered or not because following it is so much fun. What’s not to like about a plan that encourages you to drink coffee and eat good dark chocolate?

  1. I absolutely love classical music, probably because my mother played the piano well. As kids, my brother and I frequently  wheedled and cried until she would relent and play “In A Persian Market” by Ketelbey one more time on an ancient upright piano. Later, we were both marched to as many recitals and concerts as she could afford. And from middle school on, we were treated to seats in the nosebleed section every spring when the opera came to Dallas.

  1. Because I inherited many of my grandmother’s passions, I, too, am a political junkie. Since sixth grade I’ve avidly followed Presidential elections and events in the DC swamp as well as state politics. So it surprises no one that I also frequently appropriate her signature phrase, “Anyone with one eye and half sense would know better than to . . . .”  Unfortunately, I recently discovered that many of these defamed political decisions, at least since WWII, were not stupid, but selfish and corrupt instead.

  1. I first learned about the power of beauty to heal as a child when my father was killed in a plane crash. Music and “pretty rooms” offered comfort when everything else in my life turned upside down. Since then my goal has always been to create beauty everywhere possible, although I have neither musical nor artistic talent. Apparently my talent is to notice and appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful, then point it out to others. Hence the current topic on my blog, One Eye and Half Sense, is to discuss beauty in its many forms.

Win #2  Next, you really should check out Holly’s blog: http://www.thehollytreetales.com. Her excellent writing covers many topics such as:  life, leadership, health, food, business, parenting, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, inspiration, poetry, gardens, the environment, farming, autobiography, inspiring people, and other topics she chooses to share with others.

And now, saving the best for last and accompanied by a stirring drumroll, I get to nominate other bloggers to become Award Winning Versatile Bloggers. Would each of you please post on your blog  seven things about yourself, then nominate 15, or so, other bloggers to do the same. This is your chance to enjoy a moment in the spotlight where others can see more about you and your achievements.

I choose the following:

Visible Spectrum – A journey through life at https://visiblespectrumblog.com

Wild Pretty Things! in Fashion, Beauty, Travel & Food http://www.wildprettythings.com

Frank Davis – Banging On about The Smoking Ban https://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/

LifeTrap: Motivational, Personality, Random   https://lifetrapblog.wordpress.com

Mabeautility: Passie your beauty, bloggen, lifestyle, dans en make-up https://mabeautility.wordpress.com

Rhythm in Life: Our Marriage, Poetry, Cancer, Brewed Thoughts, Lists, Shop https://rhythminlife.net

ALIRZ646: My Dream_My Goal  https://alirz646.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/expectations/

Season & Serve: A Food Blog for All Seasons   https://seasonandserveblog.com

Searching for Sleep: Telling My Story   https://taylorfinn.wordpress.com

Of Snailmail, Books, & Vanities: Creating home and happiness in a foreign country https://ofsnailmailbooksandvanities.wordpress.com

First Class Act: Bringing Classy Back   https://firstclassact.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather

My Current Mantra

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One of the most beautiful animals in the world – a horse.

If one defines oft repeated phrases as mantras, my favorites have slowly changed through the years from “pick up your toys” to “do your homework” to “remember that assignment is due Friday.” As someone who now mostly works with adults, I’ve again realized how much our own daily choices “make” our lives.  We often think that each life is comprised of big, important occasions, but the it’s the day-by-day humdrum decisions and attitudes that inexorably weave the pattern called by our name. Therefore, my newest mantra is “Choose to walk in beauty.”

I’ve come to see that beauty in its various forms not only soothes our physical and emotional pain, but it also serves as a lodestone drawing us toward that which is good and true — that which will benefit us most. So these days I encourage everyone to consciously walk in beauty every single day.

Think for a moment. Striving for beauty simplifies all of our choices while subtly encouraging us to make better ones. When someone takes your picture, do you smile or do you frown like the last time you were angry? When a guest is expected, do you clean the rooms and buy flowers for the table? Or do you leave jackets draped haphazardly on the furniture and Lego pieces on the floor? When you’re feeling down, do you prefer someone yelling obscenities to hearing someone singing songs? Choosing beauty instead of exasperation, beauty instead of slovenly habits, or beauty instead of coarseness makes us better and life more satisfying.

The good news is that everywhere we look we can enjoy beauty without spending a penny. Flowers, lovers walking hand in hand, trees, sunsets, meadows, prairies, toddlers discovering clover, mountain peaks, snow covered pines, hod carriers working on a new city building, green grass, rocks hewn by the wind and water, autumn leaves, horses, and more delight our eyes everywhere we turn. Then there’s the beauty of music and numbers and problems solved and sharing new ideas, and observing kindness in action. Beauty is easily available for those who choose it.

I believe that just as fish are made to swim in water, we were made to walk in beauty. And choosing to do so brings us real joy, not mere pleasure. Walking in beauty means we have to observe and use beauty as a map or guide for choosing our pathway each day. Then that joy quadruples when we help others become aware of their own beauty.

Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather

Post Script on Harvey’s “Beauty”

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Picture taken near Houston at height of flooding. The horse was rescued.

I am posting an article about rescue efforts that is on The American Thinker blog today. It is written by a volunteer who worked in the Dallas center for flood victims. Distance between those cities is 240 miles. (

What I Saw in the Floodwaters of Houston

By Hugh Reynolds

John Nolte’s superb article in Breitbart, “Houston Proves Everything the MSM Says about Our ‘Divided’ Country Is a Lie” (September 4, 2017) prompted me to tell my own story.  My family and I spent many hours in early September helping out at the “Mega-Shelter” for flood victims in downtown Dallas.  What I experienced there was like nothing I have ever seen.

The Responders and the Services

The response of Texans, and Americans from all across the country, to the catastrophic Houston flooding proves the power and resilience of the human spirit.  The magnitude of the logistics, the care, and yes, the love, is beyond extraordinary.  I know.  I have seen it.

Dozens of organizations virtually built a small city almost overnight in a space the size of 10-12 football fields.  Evacuees from the floodwaters in Southeast Texas came in by the hundreds, then by the thousands.  Hundreds of volunteers rushed in from nearly every state.

The Red Cross set up 5,000 cots and provided people who had lost almost everything with blankets, toiletries, showers, laundry service, child care, relocation and job counseling, and many other services.  Salvation Army volunteers fed everyone, including volunteers, three meals a day.  Volunteers from churches brought in water, juice, snacks, clothing, pillows, and other essentials.  Children were provided school clothes, toys, books, puppet shows, and supervised play areas.  Chaplains were giving out Bibles and providing spiritual comfort.

A small hospital was put together, including units for triage, primary and acute care, and stocked with all necessary medical equipment and supplies.  Scores of doctors, nurses, and other medical staff worked shifts lasting anywhere from eight to eighteen hours.  Medical services included mental health counseling, social work, and transport to other medical centers for dialysis and other critical needs.

Walmart established a fully stocked pharmacy for critical prescription needs like insulin and heart medication.  HEB set up a store providing food, clothing, and other personal items at no charge.  Evacuees were given free transportation to the Dallas Zoo, Six Flags Over Texas, outdoor movies, museums, and other cultural attractions.  I even saw a small boy getting a haircut in a makeshift barber shop.

Texas National and State Guard, local police, firefighters, and EMT personnel, and other first responders, were there to provide security and safety, while checking evacuees in and out of the building.  Janitorial staff worked around the clock to keep the shelter clean and free of trash.  Emergency management volunteers performed countless duties to ensure that the flood victims had whatever they needed.  FEMA was there for logistical, equipment, and financial support.  The VA was on hand to serve the needs of veterans.  The administrative record-keeping needed to keep track of victims, volunteers, services, and supplies was immense.

Personal Observations

I came in with other volunteers representing the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a nationwide network of citizen volunteers organized at the local level and associated with fire or police departments.  My assignments consisted of escorting evacuees through the relief center with their few belongings; helping families navigate the huge facility; getting them settled into assigned sleeping spaces; acting as a runner for their various personal needs; and, unexpectedly, becoming a prayer partner.

I met volunteers from Massachusetts, Arizona, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, and many other states and Texas cities.  I worked with hundreds of people who had interrupted their lives and come from distant places to help others in need.

I encountered one young lady who had suddenly decided to put her personal business on hold, get on a plane, and fly from Milwaukee to Dallas just to see if she could help.  She had stepped out in faith into the unknown, and we caught her gently in God’s safety net as she fell into a strange and unimaginable world of human need, hardship, and suffering.  We gave her a quick tour, taught her to improvise, provided her with whirlwind training, and immersed her into shelter life.  She found a calling and confidence to pursue a life of service.  She also found herself giving and receiving unanticipated blessings.

As I walked the floor (which I estimated to be the size of 10 to 12 football fields), I found that many people just needed someone to listen to their stories and maybe hold their hands.  I saw families and single mothers with two, four, or even six children, including newborns.  I spoke to people who had been separated from families or had no one else in the world.  I prayed with elderly and handicapped people and became friends with an elderly man with no legs in a wheelchair who always had a smile for me.  I procured small stuffed animals and toys for dozens of small children and babies.  I was rewarded with tiny smiles and blessed to hold little hands.

I have been amazed by the courage and hope and faith in God displayed by these victims who did not behave like “victims.”  They kept up their spirits and told their stories and, in very profound ways, ministered to me and other volunteers.  Yes, there was some tension and tribulation, and there were some tears, but I saw miracles of strength and hope, and I love every hour I was there.

Finally, I met a woman who spent 14 hours in chest-deep water in her home – holding her family bible over her head the whole time – before she was rescued.  She thought her son had drowned but had learned that he had also been rescued.  He was later brought to the Dallas shelter, and they were reunited.  We shared stories with each other and read scriptures from the Bible she had rescued.  We laughed, we cried, and we hugged.  I was blessed to meet this sister in Christ.

Funny: I didn’t see anyone there from Black Lives Matter, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic Party, Hollywood libs, or any other social justice warriors out there helping the thousands of black families who had lost everything in the flood.  No one but us heartless Christians, conservatives, and other deplorables.

The liberal newspapers and TV networks can continue to try to divide us, call us racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, white supremacists, fascists, and worse.  Let the leftist professors and their student “snowflakes” in the universities whine and cry about “micro-aggressions” and “trigger warnings.”  Let them take offense at every imagined “politically incorrect” comment and run for their “safe spaces” and riot in the streets.

Meanwhile, real Americans – men and women of every race, ethnicity, nationality, and faith – came together and proved them wrong every day through our relief efforts.  Almost overnight in Dallas, and in many other relief shelters in Texas and other states, compassionate Americans built truly safe spaces for thousands of our brothers and sisters and their children in desperate need.

And these disaster victims blessed us every day with their broken but beautiful lives.

Hugh Reynolds recently retired from 32 years in federal service.  He spent his entire government career in the “fraud, waste, and abuse” business, including 18 years auditing that beleaguered enterprise known as the U.S. Postal Service, which survives without a dime of the taxpayer’s money.  He is a lifelong student of public policy and considers himself an American Thinker.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/10/what_i_saw_in_the_floodwaters_of_houston.html#ixzz4vfmLdGu8
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