Virtue based upon false belief can only be temporary. In his Meditations, Roman emperor and stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, wrote:
· "It is peculiar to man to love even those who do wrong. And this happens, if when they do wrong it occurs to you that they are fellow humans and that they do wrong through ignorance and unintentionally, and that soon both of you will die; and above all, that the wrongdoer has done you no harm, for he has not made your ruling faculty worse than it was before."
While it is true that people often harm out of “ignorance and unintentionally,” it is exaggerated and unsubstantiated to claim that they always act in this manner. If virtue depends upon our holding a benign impression of the motives of the wrongdoer, virtue will be short-lived.
Furthermore, if our virtuous behavior depends on an assessment “that the wrongdoer has done you no harm, for he has not made your ruling faculty worse than it was before," virtue lacks an adequate rationale. Why? Aurelius needlessly makes light of the effects of victimization, which can be traumatic, even life attenuating.
While I appreciate Aurelius’ desire to treat even the worst evildoer with kindness, his rationale, based on the minimization of evil, cannot support that weight of our losses, grieving, and gnawing desire for justice.
Let us not minimize loss and evil. Instead, let us see it for what it truly is, and yet forgive. But how? Only by knowing that an omnipotent God will dry our every tear in an eternity of love! Also, by knowing that, without His mercy, we could have performed even greater cruelties.