Be contagious

The line from Confucius was that “Virtue is never solitary; it always has neighbors.” What he meant by that was that good behavior and good thinking is contagious. In a way, virtue is like the homeowner who moves into a rundown neighborhood and through that investment and the cheerful improvements they make to their own home and the friends and family that follow, the block begins to turn around.

It’s become a point of virtue-signaling these days to criticize this as “gentrification,” but of course that’s silly. We should want people to be doing this–not just in housing but in all walks of life. If politics is a snake pit of corruption and avarice, then good people should enter it and improve it, not simply denounce it. If capitalism is too selfish, then the caring should start businesses with better cultures (which, when successful, will steal market share from the bad actors). If a group has extreme or offensive views, it shouldn’t be cut off and isolated for fear of “normalizing it.” It should be normalized–by encouraging normal people to interact with it, correct it and prod these misguided people towards the right path.

The silliness of Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged is the premise that the talented, brilliant people leave society to create their own utopia…because they weren’t appreciated enough by everyone else. What childish nonsense. Since Plato’s allegory of the cave, the duty of the philosopher and of the virtuous person is clear: To come back to the group and share one’s knowledge. To resist the urge to be the solitary wiseman and to instead be a good neighbor.

Remember that today as you work on your studies. That the point of all this is to make the world–not just yourself–a better place.

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