Smile in the face of Madoff

It’s really struck me in a new way this week how serious this financial crisis is. Maybe it’s just the other shoe dropping on this new reality; or maybe it’s because, on top of everything , the former chairman of the NASDAQ, Bernard Madoff,  is accused of $50B out-and-out fraud in a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions. Despicable.

Where do we go from here? How about to some words of wisdom to start the weekend from Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics:

The Virtues we get by first performing single acts of working…men come to be builders, for instance, by building; harp-players, by playing on the harp: exactly so, by doing just actions we come to be just; by doing the actions of self-mastery we come to be perfected in self-mastery; and by doing brave actions brave.

Translation: we become virtuous by acting with virtue; kind by acting with kindness; generous through acts of generosity.  Not the other way around.

Or, to take another turn at the same thought, from Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “The place to improve the world is first in one’s own hear and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

Right now the world needs a whole lot of improving, and things will likely get worse before they get better.  So the question is: what can you put out into the world to get us there a little more quickly?

How about some extra kindness, virtue, and generosity?

Really, now is a great time to surprise people you love and people you don’t even know with small acts of kindness.  People all over are hurting, and they’ll really appreciate it.

And you will heal yourself in the process.

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