The growing trend today is for people to focus a great deal of time and effort on strengthening their bodies. While this is an important thing, we cannot focus only on our shells to the detriment of our souls. Spending time strengthening our inner person, our true selves, is much more important, because all eternity depends upon it. Today’s commentary examines the importance of being grounded in virtue.
One of the most popular ideas floating through public consciousness today is the idea that physical fitness requires people to take good care of their core—that is, the muscles at the center of the body that provide the core source of strength to every other muscle, or as one fitness writer describes it, the muscles that “help keep your body stable and balanced.”
In the same way, we might say that a person’s emotional core needs to be grounded in stability and a healthy balance—two attributes of the human being who is grounded in virtue.
Just as a body must be kept strong and well-balanced, a person’s emotional well-being must also be attuned to what is good and healthy. Otherwise human attitudes and relationships will become as flabby as the body that is not receiving a muscular workout.
Sadly, in today’s frenetic quest for self-gratification, human beings are far less likely to consider the ongoing need to strengthen the human will. The attributes of the healthy will are indeed the virtues that frame one’s vision of morality.
Saint Paul explained it this way to the Philippians: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
The virtues that help keep our psychological core balanced and healthy are those attributes that help us think and act with reason and common sense. When man ceases to acknowledge that his mental well-being requires as much willpower and exercise as his physical fitness does, all hell breaks loose, quite literally.
Examples of this societal failure to exercise the inner psychological core with vigor are everywhere. Answering the following set of questions will provide clues in determining why flabby morals are the source of violence in America.
Why are so many teens and young adults suffering from sexually transmitted diseases?
Why is the adolescent abortion rate increasing, particularly among minority teens?
Why are more and more young people choosing not to marry, preferring instead to live together?
Why is it increasingly popular for homosexuals to become surrogate parents?
Do these trends really represent the new normal?
The best answer for such questions is provided by Rev. Wojciech Giertych OP, the theologian of the Papal Household, who said:
When sexuality is not tied with the virtue of chastity, which trains the person how to integrate the sexual desire within charity, then everything is rocked. And certainly we are seeing this once contraception became so easily available. We’re seeing, successively, the distortions of sexuality, and problems on the level of human relationships, of marriages breaking down, of a violent aggressiveness of women who are discovering that they are being abused as a result of contraception, and so they’re landing in an aggressive feminism, with rage against men. Contraception is leading to abortion, because it treats the potential child as an enemy, and if something goes wrong and a child is conceived then the child is easily aborted.
In other words, when one’s inner moral core is not toughened up with virtue and self-sacrifice, the result is chaos—violence toward one’s self, cruelty toward others including the commission of abortion against one’s own child, and an innate disregard for human dignity within and without.
The longer these things go unchecked, the easier it is for the culture to become comfortable with self-indulgent flab. The antidote is simple: Teach others how to strengthen their moral core and explain why it is important to do so.