“For the man that is truly good and wise, we think, bears all the chances of life becomingly and always makes the best of circumstances…as a good shoemaker makes the best shoes out of the hides that are given him.”
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Today is a day to reflect and to learn. What surely would have been a disaster has been avoided. There is much for which to be grateful. At the same time we know so little about what comes next.
We do know that we live in a political society that undermines truly human life, in multiple and sometimes hidden ways. There is no reason today to expect that this will change. This is what is ‘given’ to us; this is part of our story. Indeed, there is no story of our life that is not a story of living in a powerfully adverse culture. And it still can and should be a story of happiness. Such is the power of goodness, of virtue.
We can get very discouraged. We all have a deep-seated desire to belong to a good political society, with good rulers. It need not be perfect, and never has been or will be. But a political society can and should be a place that protects and fosters truly human life. And we do not have one.
We often feel powerless; we have made strenuous efforts in the political realm. And this has made a real difference. And we will keep trying again, and again, as long as we are able. But we must be realistic: it is probable that laws will get worse; public education will get worse; the exercise of religion will be more hindered; general customs will continue to degenerate in serious ways; etc.
I posted the quotation above from Aristotle just a few weeks ago; I thought I should do so again, today.
What does a good shoemaker do on this post-election day, with the hides that are given him? I think he is grateful, and cautious, and realistic. He turns again to the work at hand. Our home, our friendships, our interior lives, our moral struggles, our daily labors–are right where they were yesterday. Regardless of what happened politically yesterday, or of what happens tomorrow, there is nothing to do but to keep on working, like a good shoemaker.