“All who are able, may gain virtue by study and care, for it is better to be happy by the action of nature than by chance. To entrust to chance what is most important would be defective reasoning.” – Aristotle, Nico. I.9.
Thomas Jefferson read one passage each evening that he knew would catalyze his thoughts and feelings about virtue. He wrote: “I never go to bed without an hour, or half hour’s previous reading of something moral, whereon to ruminate in the intervals of sleep.” Jefferson understood that only study and care would lead to the refinement of virtue in his heart and mind. This process, as Aristotle noted, cannot be trusted to chance. It cannot be left to one’s teachers, preachers or creatures, no matter how loving, wise or inspiring they may be.
The cultivation of virtue ﹣ not just its appearance, but durable grounding virtue ﹣ is fundamentally a personal matter. It is the foundation upon which noble deeds are wrought and meaningful lives are lived. It comes not automatically, but by virtue of daily study and care.