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(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

They Say "Patience Is a Virtue"

They say "Patience is a virtue," and most people don't question that. Probably, they don't question it because they hear it so often. They've been brainwashed, a bit. Conditioned since birth by relentless repetition of that dogmatic fact: "Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue." I bet if you asked most people to name a virtue, survey says patience at #1.

I'm convinced that the reason people find it so necessary to emphasize the virtuousness of patience, so much more than any other virtue (when was the last time anyone found it necessary to point out "Courage is a virtue"?) is because, out of all the virtues, patience is the one whose virtuousness is the most arguable. A lot of people might say patience is the worser part of discretion.

That's another one that bugs me: "Discretion is the better part of valor." To hear the saying say it, discretion + courage = valor. Or possibly: discretion, plus courage, plus unspecified additional component(s), equals valor. Where the hell did they get that math? In what sense can discretion be said to be a component of valor at all? Let alone the better part?

I have to assume we're talking courage as the other part. The worser part. Because when I think of valor, or look it up in the dictionary, basically what you have is: courage. There isn't a whiff of discretion to what that word "valor" actually means. The only place "discretion" comes in is in that one saying. Otherwise, you would never even associate the two. How did that saying catch on? You really might as well say, "humility is the better part of courteousness," at that point. Or "fiscal responsibility is the better part of looking sexy no matter how you feel." These may all be virtues, but they're kind of unrelated.

So, yeah. Patience is a virtue. I'm not going to dispute it. I might qualify it a bit. Let's say: if virtues were vowels, patience is "...and sometimes Y."

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