It doesn’t start with ambitious plans to remake the order of things or with the passing of laws to ban evil behaviour. On the contrary; Tolstoy writes, “There can be only one way to fight the general evil of life, it is in the moral, religious, and spiritual perfection of your own life.”
I would have agreed with this, that a more virtuous society begins at home—at our home. If you want the world to be better, improve yourself, for this is entirely in your circle of control. To paraphrase Don’t talk what a good person should be like. Be that person! Again, because this is in your control. But also because it is the most compelling argument and the best way to prod others to change. How can you possibly have the gravitas necessary to convince others to be better when you clearly haven’t convinced yourself? How can you fight evil or sin or bad habits in the world when you’re losing the battle at home?
Of course, this is not an excuse to not be politically or charitably active, but it should inform your priorities. Get your life in order. Do the work you need to do. Because it will make the biggest difference and it will give you the platform—the moral high ground—necessary to make a difference for the world.
By Brian Nadon