Do Not Neglect Your Vices. Fundamentals of Leadership and the Quest for Clarity in Thinking.

I’ve always espoused the axiom of not neglecting your vices, which for me is more a tactic of pragmatism rather than a dictate of principle. To announce that embracing our vices is better than adherence to standard rules or beliefs may send some into a wholesale defence of morality, religion, or politics. So let’s define terms that clarity can be preserved.


In my world view, a principle is an important underlying law or assumption required in a system of thought. We are liberals, conservatives, nationalist, globalists, atheists, fundamentalists, techies, or Luddites based on the opinions, attitudes, and beliefs we have discovered, processed, and adopted as essential to the way we think. On the other hand a vice, for most of us, is a failing or flaw in behaviour or character rather than the “immoral wicked depravity” of media fodder. For most, the journey of life is a process of identifying vices and if not changing them at least managing them.


Still Life, 1982, Mark Tansey

My thinking here is that by neglecting vices the tendency will be to focus solely on your virtues. Exclusive focus on anything inevitably produces a tunnelled myopic viewpoint that distorts reality and in itself becomes distorted to the point of becoming a vice. The definition of principle; i.e. adherence to standard rules or beliefs, is not the primary issue it is the method of discovery, processing, and adoption that becomes the route to distortion.


First, most discovery has become external rather than internal. Because of the basic lethargy of the species, it seems easier to accept what we are told rather than to find out things by ourselves. Second, taking what we have discovered and comparing it against some normal cultural or personally adopted positions seems to be difficult for most of us. This basic element of our physiological makeup is hijacked by apathy. This leads to further distortion of the first point which is that if we have been told rather than discovered our standard for processing is not ours but someone else’s. Third, lack of decrement in discovery and negligence in processing facilitates the adoption of ideas and positions that are embraced rather than erased. If everybody in my groups thinks the same something is askew.


Any group, club, synagogue, church, mosque, political party, or government that defines who they are, or we are, as one intractable set of ideals, ideas, or ascribable lists may be too focused on their virtues. An organization that is biased, exclusionary, or abusive to individuals that do not look, talk, or think as they do may be too focused on their virtues. If a group will not include, support or at least listen to points of view that are different from the ones they have come up with, may be too focused on their virtues.


“Radicalization” and the possible penetration of “violent extremist ideology” is a potential threat to security and has become of great concern around the world. Radicalization often results from the marginalization and a deepening sense of exclusion and unfair treatment by established social groups and government agencies. The extremist ideology responsible for violent outbursts is often embedded in the systematic demonization of marginalized groups. Instead of seeing differences as valued resources and important forces to prevent radicalization, negatively categorised organizations have come under relentless attacks by individuals and groups with the aim of delegitimizing the authentic voices of global communities.


Exclusive focus on anything inevitably produces a tunnelled myopic viewpoint that distorts reality and in itself becomes distorted to the point of becoming a vice. The only way we grow as individuals, a culture, a nation, a world is by recognizing how we can live together. Only by identifying and confronting our vices will we ever be virtuous.

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