Saturday, February 18, 2017
“Virtue…I find you at last but a shade” - Euripides
We’re caught in a trap that we’ve inherited from our forefathers. It’s an unquenchable hunger - a desire so deep, so intimately woven into the fabric of our souls that we have no hope of ignoring it. No hope of medicating it. No possibility of deceiving ourselves that we’re of the caliber of person to meet it, or that it doesn’t exist. We are without hope, damned to starve in this barren wasteland of our own moral creation.
What are we to do?
Are we to strive to cover up our own perception - with drink or sex or stronger things? It won’t work - we can’t outrun our own conscience - even our biology will adapt to the sensory distraction - such that we will need ever increasing doses to provide the same limited relief.
Are we to strive to live up to our understanding of virtue - using every last bit of our strength - denying ourselves anything that could possibly distract us from our singular goal? No matter how focused we are and how valiantly we strive - we will fail. Every violation of virtue will remind us of our utter inadequacy.
Every appetite that we suffer is meant to be combined with our reason - to lead us toward the future that we were meant for. When we are hungry - it drives us toward the food we need to survive - though combining that with our reason we can also choose to not eat things we’ve learned to be poison - or we can ration food for the future if we find more than our immediate hunger seeks.
The obvious conclusion here, that shouldn’t escape our intellectual capacities, is that this particular appetite should drive us toward virtue but further than that, it should drive us toward the only One with whom we can meet our inbuilt desire.