Permit me to think aloud for a bit.
You’ve probably heard it said that your greatest strength is your greatest weakness.I think I also subscribe to this view because I believe in the dual nature of our universe. Everything that has a positive has a negative as well. Kind of like the yin and yang of Chinese philosophical thought.
We need the negatives to appreciate the positives and vice-versa. Try explaining the concept of heat without using the concept of cold. Or the concept of success without using the concept of failure. It seems a bit difficult to grasp a concept without having something to compare it to.
So I feel negative and positive are inseparable. Wherever there’s a negative, there’s a positive. As I once read somewhere, in the aftermath of any disaster, you will always see the best and worst of human nature. From those who sacrifice safety and shelter to help other victims to those who take advantage of the situation to raise prices of essential goods.
So I believe it is with character traits. Wherever there’s a positive, there’s a negative lurking not too far behind. The democratic, consensus-building leader is also the indecisive and ponderously slow one. The decisive leader is also the dictatorial and inconsiderate one. Can’t seperate the good from the bad.
I used to believe in absolutes. That there were things or concepts or character traits that were absolutely good and there were those that we absolutely bad. But clearly, the “goodness” or “badness” of something depends on the context, no?
For example, I thought being arrogant was an absolute negative. And for the most part, arrogance is a negative character trait. But I think it also has its positives. Sometimes it takes arrogance to try something that the average person wont. I mean, only a “too known” Cristiano Ronaldo will try and score with a free-kick from 40 metres.
Likewise, being kind and accommodating is generally a positive character trait. But in its extreme form, it results in the person getting used and taken for granted. So as with just about everything in life, the key is finding the balance.
So after many years of trying to find “the right way(s)” to live one’s life, I have come to the point where I think there is no such way or ways. Every decision we take is going to come with its negative and positive consequences and we have to decide if those are the ones we can live with.
You can decide to be the one who goes the extra mile for people who matter to you. But that will not necessarily bring you a more successful or satisfying life than someone who only offers help when it’s going to benefit him/her in someway. There are just too many other factors that play a part.
So what is the conclusion of the matter? Is it ” Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Maybe. Maybe not. I’m still pondering.