“If they are wise they will be great and happy. If they are of contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them. Whoever thou art, remember this and in thy sphere, practice virtue thyself and encourage it in others.” ~ Patrick Henry
I never cease to be amazed by the wisdom of our founding fathers. With very little in the way of formal education, Patrick Henry had a crystal clear understanding of what makes people happy – living a life of virtue. The more virtue we possess, the more happiness we will have in our lives. The more we are of “contrary character”, the more misery will find its way into our lives. But I want to focus on the last four words of Henry’s passage,… “encourage it in others”.
Ours has become a society of “live and let live”. Political correctness dissuades us from encouraging others for fear that we might offend someone. We present trophies to our children, not for performing at their best, but simply for showing up. We can’t run the risk of hurting their feelings. Our government looks for ways to increase the hand outs we give to the poor rather than encouraging them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and do something with their life. We certainly can’t expect personal accountability, now can we? Society ridicules the person who dares to mention God or faith, especially in the workplace or in our schools. We have descended into an environment where we must allow people the personal freedom to do whatever they want, forgetting completely the founding principle that with freedom comes responsibility.
As I spend time with my grandchildren, I sometimes also get to spend time with some of their friends and one thing I see all too often is that so many of our children in today’s society have no positive role models to look up to. They have no one to encourage them. Many of them come from broken homes and have at least one absentee parent and sometimes two. Is it any wonder so many of them turn to and emulate other children of “contrary character”?
We have a responsibility to not only live our lives with virtue, but to encourage it in others, especially our children. It’s time we stopped worrying about being politically correct and start doing more to shape the future of our world by being cultural architects and a positive influence on others. We spend so much time in a frantic search for happiness, yet all we have to do is practice virtue in ourselves and encourage it in others.
In this life we are called to serve and that includes encouraging virtue in others. Servant leadership is far more than a style of business management; it is an obligation on each of us as citizens of the world. We have a responsibility to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Patrick Henry outlined the solution for us – practice virtue in ourselves and encourage it in others.
Are you living a life of virtue and are you encouraging it in others? Who will you meet today that would benefit greatly from your encouragement? You never know what a difference your encouragement will make is someone’s life.
- Virtue Ethics (brittnismith.wordpress.com)
- Circularity (whatisthehuman.wordpress.com)
- Lay virtue alongside your faith (fellowshiproom.org)