The Path To Greatness
When an individual upholds virtue to the highest standard, the world takes notice. Consider, for instance, the likes of MLK, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Harriet Tubman; even though they are from different cultural and religious traditions, they all have one thing in common: the virtue with which they lived. These individuals became esteemed in the eyes of the world because of the values they upheld, especially amidst moments of hardship. Although they each had a different calling, a different mission they were given in life, they did not abandon their call to greatness. They are examples for all of us: they transformed the world by harnessing their unique God-given abilities, and committing themselves to a high moral standard- and the world responded. At different points in time, the world’s gaze became fixated upon their goodness. But why? Because they learned to cultivate virtuous habits that inspired others. The difference between them, and you and I, is not so great. They simply attracted others with their goodness. The human person can not help but be attracted to the goodness that each of them emanated, because at the end of the day, truth, beauty and goodness are what the human heart longs for. We are created as inherently good, and at the core of our beings we desire to be participants in authentic goodness.That said, sometimes our human frailty gets in the way. Yet, this longing for goodness is something we should pay attention to, and that should not be ignored.
Take for example, Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and endured many circumstances that could have led to her death. Once she was free, she returned to the place she worked so hard to escape to help lead others to freedom. Tubman’s work was a constant threat to her own freedom and safety, and yet she risked her life over and over again, not only because of her conviction about the fight for freedom, but because she had a genuine care for others and took responsibility for creating change in society. Not to mention, that despite many treacherous journeys, Tubman never lost a single passenger. Tubman further radiated her courage and conviction through being a proponent of women’s suffrage, and was the first woman to lead a military expedition during the Civil War. Tubman was also known for her great faith and trust in God: she acquired the nickname of “Moses” for her role in the underground railroad, and followed visions that she received that she felt were from God. Tubman made a decision to pursue what she felt called to, and learned to harness her abilities for the betterment of others. Tubman was, in all aspects, a true leader because of the virtue that she employed in every role she took on. Her daily habits of living helped her achieve the impossible: she faced grim circumstances with courage, conviction, and great responsibility.
We should consider asking ourselves how to live out a similar level of goodness. What does this look like in our daily lives? What inhibits us from living out our unique call to greatness? For we too, are all called to the same level of virtue as the aforementioned individuals; we too, are called to strive for more. Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking, we aren’t all called to be a Harriet Tubman or Mother Teresa; while this is true, we are still called to discover our gifts, love our neighbor, and be a good steward with what we are given, no matter how simple or complex it may be. None of the aforementioned individuals rose to greatness because they were seeking it. They rose to greatness because of the habits they formed that helped them attain the heights of virtue. They formed habits that led them closer to God. We know their stories: each individual placed their relationship with God at the forefront of their lives. Each of them shows us that the path to greatness lies in living a virtuous life.
Whether you are the business executive, politician, teacher, stay at home mom, or a student, the concept of living a virtuous life applies: virtue isn’t confined to a particular type of person or belief. The path to greatness lies not in how much we accomplish, our professions, or our technology saturated lives, but rather, within the habits we cultivate. Understanding that virtue helps us cultivate habits that will lead us to flourish, lies at the crux of human existence. Contrary to what is often conveyed in the media, it is not virtue that imposes limits on us, but rather we who impose limits on virtue. But truly, if it is virtue that we seek, we too, can live out our calling to greatness.
Despite the onset of circumstances that 2020 has brought, now more than ever, we must relish in the opportunity that lies before us amidst these times of hardship. We can choose to embrace a virtuous lifestyle that will push us on our journey, or we can choose to remain where we are and to accept the “status quo.” We must ask ourselves, how is God calling me to live a virtuous life? What is the mission God has for me? How can I get there? What does forming virtuous habits look like in my daily life? Our ultimate aim should be to develop virtuous habits so that we can instill virtue in the lives of those who will carry out this legacy. Now is the time. If not now, when?
At YLF, this is what we aim to do: instill an understanding of the meaning of virtue in the youth of today, so that we can help raise up the next generation of virtuous leaders. We hope that you too, will be invested in participating in this mission: to pursue and instill goodness in our local community and integrate this into our daily lives.