Sometimes we are just clueless.
Sometimes we want what we want (no thinking about it) and so we fail to open our vision to the long-term consequences of our decisions. And then sometimes we just can’t see that far ahead.
Do you ever have situations when you can’t see the problem with some vice you’ve adopted, and then over time become unsure whether it is even a vice at all?
What is vice?
This is what I think:
A vice is a behavior or habit that at first glance appears to be a supportive move. Something that will help you get from A to B. It may be a Coke that gets you through a long project, a codependent relationship that seems to take care of all your needs for now, or it could be something far bigger like a little daily meth that helps you keep up with your job and your kids and your house and, and, and….
What makes it a vice, is the fact that at some point there is a kickback. A moment when you will have to ‘pay the piper’ so to speak. When that ‘helpful’ little crutch will take something from you and leave you in worse shape than when you first started to rely on it. It’s like a bad loan, whose interest rate grows daily and leaves you less and less able to pay in the end.
And how is vice different from virtue? Virtue is moral strength and if we were to define a habit or a behavior by it, we’d say that it is something that is truly supportive even in the long, long run. It’s a habit that begets more strength, a behavior that makes it easier and easier for us to behave better. It’s doing the right things with the right motivation. It’s “choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”
Now, I used drinking Coke as an example of vice, and I hope you’ll forgive such a small thing to mention. It really is a very simple thing, not high up on the vice scale right?
So what does a shot of caffeine do for a body? It stimulates it and wakes it up! So, does drinking a Coke offer you real, sustainable strength? Said differently, does it resemble the ‘wake-up’ we feel after a good night’s sleep? Well, no, we know it’s a temporary fix right? A quick fix for that tired slugged out feeling come about 2:00 in the afternoon?
And is that so bad?
Well, maybe not. Unless it consistently keeps you from getting rest.
Unless it rescues you from having to look closely at your schedule and take out the superfluous and unnecessary so that you can find some reasonable, healthful balance.
Unless the tide-over keeps you from having to unwind your mind and deal with the mental clutter and cobwebs that are keeping you from feeling whole and fresh and growing.
Unless all of those human ‘housekeeping’ needs that are being avoided are effecting your relationships and keeping you from going deeper and building stronger bonds with those you love.
And maybe it’s a problem as simple as the soda keeping you from drinking the water that your body is screaming for, and the string of headaches you’re having because you’re chronically dehydrated…which leads to pain killers…ah hem, you get what I’m saying here?
Maybe I shouldn’t have used soda as an example. Some of you may want to let me know what an idealistic simpleton I am, and you may be absolutely right.
But, I chose such a seemingly little vice in order to make a point.
And that is that even though drinking soda will not land you in jail or help you to see the need for addiction recovery support, it isn’t supporting you either and most likely will come calling for payment later, as all vices do.
Maybe the debt will be in unwanted weight that your joints and your heart get to carry around every day; maybe it will be in bone loss or infertility issues. Maybe that tiny vice will come to collect by stripping the enamel from your teeth or simply by making you endure the vague, uneasy feeling that you are not in charge of you.
My hope is that we will become better and better at seeing our vices, large and small, for what they are. And hopefully we can come, fast or slow, but come, to a realization of the beauty, the strength-giving, relationship-building and confidence-boosting goodness of virtue.
Please take good care of yourself today!