Your personal shortcomings and natural talents are not moral triumphs.
When I read about someone preaching sexual abstinence, I want to see what that person looks like. I don’t want to be lectured about the virtues of chastity by someone who would obviously have trouble getting laid. I’m not impressed with the self-discipline or moral fortitude of an obese neckbeard or pimply teenager, and it’s hard to admire the fidelity of some awkward beta who clearly married the first mediocre woman who would sleep with him for fear that he’d never find another.
Yeah, sure, buddy, it’s all about your commitment to God, or to your spiritual refinement, or whatever.
You can rail all you want about the vulgar undulations of the debauched modern masses, and I’d probably agree with you, but it’s a little too convenient that you, with your relatively limited options, have become a beacon of moral superiority.
If Tim Tebow is actually still a virgin, now that would be something.
This applies to many things.
I’m not impressed when ectomorphs criticize fat people for eating too much.
You can eat whatever you want and never get fat. You aren’t thin because you’re more disciplined — you’re thin because you’re lucky.
I’m not impressed when people brag about the achievements of their ancestors.
Great story. What have YOU done to be worthy of that heritage?
I’m impressed by the overcoming, by will, of adversity — not the easy righteousness of those who took the path of least resistance.
That reeks of ressentiment, of trying to remake the world in your own flawed image, rather than trying to remake yourself in the image of virtue.
Overcoming is not necessary — one can simply live well according to one’s nature. But when you start accusing others of moral failures and transgressions, and hold yourself up as an exemplar, your opinion carries a lot more weight in my book if you’ve overcome the temptations you’ve warned against. If not — if you’re just doing what you wanted to do anyway, or doing what came easiest to you — you’re just bragging. Bragging is the habit of unproven men, of men who are just trying to convince you they belong one step up from the bottom of the totem pole.
Meaningful achievements are the little bullet points in life that save you from having to brag about your natural advantages, or try to trick people into believing that you are better than they are for having achieved nothing — or for having more disadvantages.
It is overcoming your natural disadvantages, or working hard to develop your natural advantages, that is noteworthy and inspiring.
In every self-righteous rant, I look for the man who has overcome nothing, trying to remake the world in his own image, to save him from the trouble of remaking himself.
There are choices I have made in my life that were based on principle, and they were anything but convenient. Doing what you think is right is only worthy of admiration when the right choice isn’t the easy choice. It’s easy to go with the flow and adapt your moral code to whatever feels good at the time. That’s the bourgeois way, the way of the merchant who becomes whoever his customers want him to be. It’s the modern way, the way of lonely people with few meaningful connections, floating through this global economy, seeking temporary pleasure and instant affirmation.
I don’t have much respect for principles of convenience. If you commit yourself to a way of life, if you say you stand up for a set of principles, that doesn’t mean anything unless you’re willing to stand up for them whether they are convenient or not.
Meaningful principles are rarely convenient in the long run.