The Virtue of Constancy

Virtue must be inculcated when we are young, because the virtues are essentially habits of acting properly, as Aristotle pointed out some 2500 years ago. If those good habits are not developed early on, it’s much harder to develop them when we are older.

And whether we have inculcated virtue from our youth or not, we are all tossed back and forth by the winds of selfish desire and vice. Even when we know what the right thing to do is, we are often tempted to do the opposite. Knowing that we should return the dropped or misplaced ten-dollar bill to its rightful owner, we are still tempted to slip it in our pocket and keep it for ourselves. If we have been raised right, however, we won’t sleep well.

Likewise, in so many areas of our life, we know we should be temperate when it comes to eating and drinking, and all of our appetites, but we are still tempted to overdo it. The virtue of constancy is in some ways a virtue which helps us stay on the path of virtue, telling us to steer clear of vice and always do the right thing, despite obstacles in our path.

Perseverance is the virtue that allows us to keep striving to do the right thing, despite the difficulty of continuing the act itself, while constancy is the virtue of continuing to do the right thing despite external difficulties. We get distracted, we lose patience, and often we just want to do the easy thing, but constancy keeps us on the right path.

– Christopher Simon

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