One of the most interesting notions I read in this book was how John Adams referred to Thomas Jefferson's ambition as a weakness. When I read that I was stunned. I was stunned because I was in the midst of my own ambitious desires in my career. I had never before that time thought that a trait that I viewed as a virtue could also be a vice.
But of course it makes sense that this is possible. A trait such as ambition could become so consuming that a person might lose focus on his family or other virtuous traits, which could be detrimental to the health of the family and the individual.
Another virtuous trait that could become a vice is tolerance. In the April, 2013 General Conference, Elder Boyd K. Packer said, "Tolerance is a virtue, but, like all virtues, when exaggerated it transforms itself into a vice." Again, that notion that a virtue can become a vice.
I think that statement might be viewed by a great many as poor counsel and rather intolerant. I first heard this counsel initially with a bit of an eye roll. However, the more I ponder it, the more I see it as wise counsel. I see it as counsel to hold on to my beliefs and to not let go of them just because they may not be popular. After all, is it not intolerant of one person to suggest that another person is intolerant?
I will continue to strive to not judge (or be intolerant of) other people because they might sin differently than I do, of which I just blogged about.
Benjamin Franklin said "Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." He even went so far as to create a program for himself to achieve moral perfection. As I was researching this quest I ran into an old blog post of The Art of Manliness about this very topic that was written in 2008. I was a little bummed at first when I saw this blog because I wouldn't be the first to write about it. But of course I wouldn't be the first to write about it. Benjamin Franklin was the first to write about this topic!
He chose thirteen virtues to try to perfect:
Interestingly, I found the virtue of silence quite interesting. My mom has this on her fridge:
One way or another, it couldn't hurt to try to focus on our virtues and always be at war with our vices. And to be weary of letting our virtues overrule our other traits or our families.