Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Adam Smith, in his important book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, wrote that excellent people have three primary virtues: prudence, justice, and benevolence, in that order. Each of them is essential to the others and to the living of a full life in society.
Virtue #1: Prudence
The virtue of prudence refers to your developing the habit of providing well for yourself, your family, your friends, your co-workers, and your company. This requires that you think intelligently and honestly about the very best course of action to maximize your opportunities and minimize possible danger and threats. The habit of prudence means you investigate every investment carefully, think ahead about what might happen if you were to take a particular course of action, and take intelligent steps to guard against setbacks and reversals of fortune. The most successful people are those who are prudent in the conduct in all of their personal and business affairs.
Virtue #2: Justice is Blind
The second habit for you to develop is the habit of justice. This refers to your commitment to the establishment and maintenance of laws in society that protect the person and property of every individual. The American republic has endured for more than 200 years because it was carefully established by the founding fathers on the basis of law, not men. At every level of our society, specific laws are prescribed and laid down that are applicable to all people, regardless of wealth or station in life.
John Rawls, the Harvard philosopher and author of A Theory of Justice (Belknap Press, revised edition, 1999), once presented a question to his class that has been repeated often through the years.
Imagine that you could write the laws and create the circumstances of your society. You are given the power to prescribe the economic, social and political relationships that would exist in your country throughout your lifetime.
There is only one limitation on your power. You would set up this structure without knowing into what sort of family or situation you would be born. You would not know in advance what sort of physical condition you might be born with. Whatever system of laws and customs you decided upon, you would then be required to live by them for the rest of your life. What kind of structure would you design in this situation?
The answer to this question is the very essence of the concept of justice. The statue of justice, holding the balances and scales in her hand, is blind folded. True justice is therefore applicable to all people who live under a certain system, irrespective of their background. When you make the habit of justice an organizing virtue for your own character, you will insist that, whatever the relative power of the parties, everyone be treated fairly and justly in the resolution of any difficulty or dispute.
The habit of prudence is essential for personal success. The habit of justice is essential for the creation of a society within which a person can pursue his or her own best interests with the greatest of possibilities. The rule is that you should never want or demand anything from anyone else that you are not perfectly willing to accept for yourself.
Virtue #3: Benevolence
The third quality you must develop is the habit of benevolence. This is one of the hallmark characteristics of the truly superior person. Aristotle referred to it as one of the eight essential virtues, that of “generosity.” Most people are psychologically and emotionally structured in such a way that they are only truly happy and satisfied when they feel they are doing something that serves and benefits other people. When you give freely and generously of yourself to others, whether it is to members of your family or to members of the public, you feel more valuable and happier inside. When you dedicate yourself to serving your customers with the very best quality product or service of which you are capable, not only do you feel a deep sense of personal satisfaction, but you also put yourself on the side the angels when it comes to personal and business success. You remember the principle: “The more you give of yourself to others with expectation of return, the more good things there are that will come back to you from the most unexpected sources.”
The regular practice of prudence, justice, and benevolence leads naturally to feelings and actions of kindness, compassion, and tolerance toward other people. You become more open minded and flexible. You develop greater patience and understanding. You are less judgmental or demanding of others. You become a better and finer person.
Imagine yourself to be a person of complete honesty and impeccable integrity. Is there any behavior of yours that you would change?
Friday, August 6, 2010
A few minutes later she woke up and that with a scream. We thought it was a normal wake up blues but were shocked beyond measure as we realised this was beyond normal. We did everything we could but she wouldn’t stop. More than an hour had passed yet my baby was nowhere near consolation. Carrying her, I was asking her what the problem was. She could only look at me and cry some more. I was so frustrated. At that moment I wished my baby could speak to me. I guess it would have been very strange for a four months old baby to speak but I wouldn’t have cared. I just needed clues.
My wife had asked me to pray for baby and we did. We prayed again and again but baby was really screaming. I left them in the room and came to the sitting room where I was ironing a few clothes. Standing before the ironing board, I began to scream, pouring my frustrations to God. I couldn’t take it any longer. I knew no reason why she should be crying that way and the One who knows why would have to do something about it or tell us what to do.
Somehow, I felt the need to bind any strange force afflicting my baby and that I did with very strong passion. Moments later I didn’t hear her voice again. My wife brought her to the sitting room and I noticed the screaming had reduced drastically. We wanted to go to the hospital but noticed she was really calming down and then it stopped and started to eat. A little while later she slept and that was the end of that shocking encounter.
The following morning while I was praying, I began to understand the reason behind frustration. I saw that lack of understanding leads to frustration. We couldn’t understand why our baby was screaming and so we were frustrated. Baby possibly wanted us to understand what was bordering her but there was communication breakdown. She couldn’t speak our language and we didn’t understand hers. And so frustration set it. Thank God who can understand the language of children and what a wonderful thing He did! He consoled her and put an end to our misery.
Delay can also be another formidable reason for frustration. No one actually likes delay. We want what we want when we want it. This is fostered by the times we live in. Ours is a generation of quick fix. Computers and other technological products have helped us reduce so much time required for many things. We don’t like to wait for anything. So when there is a delay, frustration sets in.
How to Handle Frustration
This is always difficult to do when you have a very frustrating situation but if you can do it, it will enable you to overcome the situation. Speaking through the Psalmist, God said, "Be still and know that I am God." That day I just kept quiet. Initially, I didn't know what to do and it will foolish to try to do something when you don't know what to do. Calmness helps you know what to do. Anxiety dissipates energy. That's why you can't be productive when you are under anxiety.
Take it to God
It is important we take our challenges and difficult issues to God. This is because He has perfect understanding of all things. He speaks and understands all languages and is all-powerful, so He’s aptly qualified to handle anything confronting us. We need to pray always for understanding and insight into issues because we can’t solve a problem we don’t understand. That’s why Solomon insisted on us getting understanding. He knew that life will be a bundle of frustration when you can’t understand your assignment in life and the challenges facing you.
The Power of Understanding
Understanding, among many other things will give you confidence.
When you understand a problem, you can confidently handle it. You can’t be afraid of a person or a challenge you understand. Confidence is the key to victory. It releases boldness. It gives you a winning edge. It enables you to handle your challenges calmly and surely. Confidence, according to Microsoft Encarta, is self assurance or a belief in your ability to succeed. It was confidence that made Paul to declare, “If God be for us who can be against us”. With such confidence, no wonder he was a great success. Confidence is the key to success and it draws it strength from understanding.
Secondly, understanding gives direction. When you understand a problem you can move confidently in the right direction and solve it. Direction is vital if we must win the battles of life. Direction means sense of purpose. Without a sense of purpose failure is inevitable. Nothing was created without purpose and when purpose is not known, Myles Munroe says, abuse is inevitable.
Again understanding provides security.
We can only secure a destiny we understand. Without understanding there is no security. Many people give away their lives for nothing because they lack understanding. There are many things you won’t do when you understand who you are and what you are supposed to do with your life.
Next, understanding provides peace and joy. Lasting peace and joy is a function of understanding. There are many things that want to steal your peace and drain your joy but when you understand the situation then you don’t have anything to fear. You can relax and be rest assured of victory.
Finally, understanding leads to promotion. Your promotion in life will be tied to your level of understanding. The more you understand your purpose in life and pursue it the more greatness you will enjoy.