A vice is nothing more than a virtue taken too far.
I like to remind my wife of that.
This time, we were in a restaurant when she reminded me that I was on a diet.
Dieting is virtuous, so is feeding the hungry. The former is her idea, the latter mine, but both of us struggle with turning virtues into vices.
I put on weight each winter. Minnesota weather requires it and the body responds accordingly. But this winter only required an additional ten pounds, I blew past that before Thanksgiving.
So my wife insists that I diet and of course I insist that I don’t. It is not that I am being stubborn or unhealthy rather I am merely resisting her extremism.
She always takes things too far and turns virtues into vices.
Empathy must stop at one stray cat, not a shed full.
The realm of cleanliness does not share a border with sterility.
Enthusiasm for shopping should not take flight into the irrational exuberance of dawn on Black Friday.
Her fairness should never work its way around mine.
But of all of these virtues, the one that she clearly kicks past the goal post of vice – is moderation.
You see, moderation is a strange duck. Being neither vice nor virtue, it is a hybrid that occupies a point somewhere in between.
Anything to the left of right or the right of left can be interpreted as moving in the direction of moderation. So all one must do to assume a moderate position is race to the furthest extreme of reasonableness and hop back one step.
And yes, we are talking about dieting here.
Her concept of dieting is for me to eat things that I do not like. Keep in mind that eating is a good thing; one could even say it is virtuous. So how then does spinach salad fit into the scheme of things?
I remind her of this.
I insist that since I have eliminated the vices of Doritos and Cheez-Its, and cranked back on my lust for pork chops, that I am well on my way toward moderation.
“It is good that you are eating healthy,” she tells me, “but what about fruits and vegetable?”
“Fruits?” I ask.
“Fruits,” she confirms, as the waitress appears beside our table.
“And what pie can I get for you today?” she asks.
My wife responds with a scowl.
“Cherry,” I say.
It is after all a fruit.
“And a scoop of ice cream to go with that?”
“Two,” I tell her.
“One,” my wife counters.
Now that is my kind of moderation.
Author’s note: My muse was late… again. As is obvious, she had no part in the creation of this post, but she did leave a few notes. One reads, YOU DIDN’T EXPLAIN THE MECHANISM BY WHICH A VIRTUE BECOMES A VICE.
I didn’t, so I will do that now.
A virtue becomes a vice after someone says, “this is so good, we need more of it.”