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Life and Good, Good and Life.


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For sixteen years, five months and four days I have sought the “Good Life”. Hours of thought, hundreds of dreams and thousands of other’s views have impacted me from the day I was born. Each opinion making me increasingly dazed. A priest proclaims true joy and contentment are found in loosing myself. A television screen blares that I must be satisfied by the latest plastic product. Professors insist knowledge will lead to ultimate enlightenment and joy. But all these “expert” decrees leave me empty, leaving only my thoughts. To me, the good life is living through simple virtues.

Honor still echoes across the world today. Not to be confused with pride, honor is an outward but humbly expressed virtue. Once a week Boy Scouts pledge their allegiance to a code of honor, soldiers maintain honor through respectful behavior and fulfilling duties, average citizens show honor everyday by standing up for what is right. Even in the ancient Greek play Anitgone the heroine Antigone defends honor. Antigone bravely marches to her brother’s body and covers it with earth. When Antigone is later caught, she denies nothing, admitting her deed boldly. At death’s very lips Anitgone expresses her validation in honor with the biting response to her sentencer, “… can anyone / Living, as I live, with evil all about me, / Think death less than a friend?” (Sophocles 149) But any fictitious character can advocate honor, how has it helped me achieve the good life? Last year I enrolled in the hardest class I have ever taken. The material was complex and the tests nerve wrecking. I could have easily cheated on the tests, but I didn’t. Because of that I have learned more than I ever thought possible. Even though I received my first “B” as a student, my sense of achievement through honor was incredible. I had finished
the class and finished it honorably. Through honor I had achieved something worthwhile, and most importantly my life had been further enriched.

Tenacity led to the light bulb, tennis shoes and the APOLLO missions. But tenacity is not devoted to technology and trinkets; it can lead to a loving marriage, a close family, a successful career and ultimately a good life; tenacity applies to almost anything. Through tenacity I have achieved things I never thought possible. My hard work with piano specifically. Hours spent rehearsing pieces I thought once unplayable have proved me wrong, leaving me with a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Tenacity applies to the search for knowledge as well. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave beautifully paints the ascent made to enlightenment as lengthy and difficult. In fact, Plato says that someone making the journey would have to be “[drug] forcibly up the steep and rugged ascent.” (229) As Plato shows, stepping out of the normal and into the difficult is not easy. Which is why tenacity is necessary in the good life, it helps us push ourselves and most importantly progress.

Love comes in all shapes and sizes. There is love of country, love of a spouse, love of friends, the list goes on, but any good life requires these and others. But of all loves, charity is most important to a good life. A life without charity, the love for others, is sometimes painful and can lead to madness. Achilles, a legendary warrior in Homer’s The Illiad, enraged by hate and vengeance violates almost any form of law in his unquenchable rage towards Hektor. After killing him, Achilles drags Hektor’s body round about the city of Troy, until Priam, Hektor’s father, comes to him and begs for his son’s remains. Achilles realizes the extent he has gone to satisfy his rage, and grasps that even in war, charity has its place. I have never been at war, but I have still seen the wonderful effect that Charity has on a good life. I recently volunteered as a student director for the Rhodes Junior High musical Back to 80’s. Rehearsals ran late and were often frustrating, but with the lead director pregnant and due a week before the performance I was needed. Granted, I still had a magnificent time and learned much as a director, but It wasn’t easy. I had to make sacrifices and let go of some of my current wants, yet the look of joy on the students’ faces when they performed stretched my heart with satisfaction. I had given up some of my time yes, but in the end it was worthwhile. Charity doesn’t have to be a long or lengthy process, it can be as simple as picking a dropped folder for someone else, but it always will brighten any day and ultimately any goodlife.
The examples of Honor, Tenacity and Charity offered above are not earth shattering, and that is the point. The good life is not found in some grand revelation or mighty realization. It is found in simple everyday activities when they are done through those virtues. Which is why when I glimpse a group of students studying hard for a test the next day, watch a father hard at work with his boys or see a teenager help his elderly neighbor carry in the week’s groceries or I am enlightened more than any clergyman, businessperson or professor could ever leave me.




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