I was listening to the radio, which in of itself is nothing special. I heard a song about some guy who had found new life in Christ, but was afraid of his old self coming back and ruining all that. He asks, “How far is east from west?”
The man was singing and said that the difference was from one hand to the other. But I don't quite think that hits the mark. Why? Because vice and virtue (as well as sin and righteousness) is a journey, not one side or the other. How far is east from west?
One single step.
One step is all that's needed to go from one direction to another. You don't even have to turn around: even walking backwards counts.
I feel that this is the way the path of virtue is. It's long and narrow. It only goes one way. And, as it turns out, a lot of things like to block that path.
Little wonder, then, it's so tiring and hard to become a Sage, to be like Christ, this, that, and the other thing. It's far easier to turn around, find another way, go around, whatever, than it is to keep on the path. And I think Stoics have it harder than the Christians. At least Christians believe there's a reward at the end. A Stoic without religion, atheist or theist, doesn't have that same promise.
Thankfully, the path of virtue will always be there, waiting for us to get back on it. It doesn't blame us for taking an easier path from time to time. It knows that if we are truly good people, we'll admonish ourselves for taking the paths of vice. And if we aren't that good, well, that by itself is its own punishment.
How far is virtue from vice? The same distance between east and west.