Virtue Public And Private
June 9, 2011 by Bob Livingston
“A good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at your age are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous,” George Washington once said. Unfortunately, too many of the people we elect lack this essential.
Take the case of Representative Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). Weiner got caught sending racy photographs of himself to women through social media. When caught, Weiner sought to weave a web of lies and place the blame on others as he tried to cover up his actions.
Any rational, thinking person who watched Weiner destruct over the next couple of days knew from the get-go that he was lying. And it certainly wasn’t a stretch to think that if Weiner had sent one racy photograph to one woman, he had sent some to others.
Weiner finally came clean and is now trying to save his political career. But we now know Weiner lacks the first essential in a man.
Weiner is just the latest in a long line of morally bankrupt politicians to be exposed — or expose himself. Such transgressions know no party affiliation. And they are a representation of the society in which we now live.
We are now a people who have rejected God: the basis for a good, moral character. We live in a world filled with selfish pleasure-seekers desiring instant gratification. It is a recipe for our destruction.
In a letter to Mercy Warren in 1776, John Adams wrote: “Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honour, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superiour to all private passions.”
We must elect people who demonstrate public virtue. To do so, we must first be virtuous ourselves. Only then can we recognize it when we see it.