Tools for good
How can one work at being good?

On the question of,”How can one work at being good?” one famous answer has been virtue theory. It has been expounded by figures like Aristotle and Aquinas, and one can find modern versions in “character education” programs. The idea is to focus on practicing specific virtues, with the goal of having them become habit. Since we often have incomplete information, and the correct moral action will be a matter of judgement, the goal is to perfect the judgement by practicing virtues.

How can we influence others to be good?

On the question of, “How can we influence others to be good?” one important answer is the narrative. If being moral means being able to see from other perspective, then anything that can aid people in doing that can increase moral behavior. The narrative is often designed to do just that. Characters are presented that the audience can identify and empathize with.

Before the civil war the abolitionist movement existed for decades, but it was limited to a minority of activists. The advent of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, the second best selling book in American history, transformed the North into a nation of abolitionists. When Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he is reported to have said, “So this is the little lady, who started the big war”.

Those people that can weave successful narratives that convey ethical truths
are the modern day prophets guiding us towards a better future.

Always it is easier to pay homage to the prophets than to heed the direction of their vision.
It is easier blindly to venerate the Saints then to learn the human quality of their sainthood.            
It is easier to glorify the heroes of the race than to give weight to their examples.
To worship the wise is much easier than to profit by their wisdom.
Great leaders are honored, not by adulation, but by sharing their insights and values.
Grandchildren of those who stoned the prophet
sometimes gather up the stones to build the prophet's monument.
Always it is easier to pay homage to the prophets than to heed the direction of their vision.

- Prophets by Clinton Lee Scott
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