September 12, 2016

KANKANHALLI | Virtuous Vices

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We’re all sinners to an extent.* Some of us are aware of our cosmic wrongdoings, and some of us have yet to learn, but all of us have to cope with who we are. One day, perhaps we’ll even love who we are (but I don’t want to ask too much). In the meantime, it seems like we’re expected to engage in a process of continuous growth — as does the model-millennial, who improves himself to improve the world he inhabits. Albeit in a leisurely way, I, too, advocate for self-improvement, but not by scorning my flaws. Sometimes, adopting a new perspective serves better than donning a new personality. Without further ado, here are a few of my favorite vices and how they double as virtues.

1. Disloyalty: Undoubtedly, we’re all fans of the faithful puppy trailing our footsteps, and we respect the customer who keeps going back to the H&M that’s 45 miles away from home. Still, it’s plain to see the monotony that this might generate. Oblivious to the opportunities enjoyed by the Independent and Unaffiliated, the Loyal goes on existing in a space devoid of excitement. How would you expand horizons that are defined so strictly?

2. Egotism: So what if you never text first? A sense of pride and some self-importance are precursors to great accomplishments. Just ask Kanye West. That is, if you can get him to notice you (unlikely, but he would say that life is good when you pamper yourself).

3. Greed: In essence, greed is longing. Sometimes, longing of an insatiable nature, but it can still result in a lot of positives. To consider a quick example of greed’s merits, take the entirety of human history. The luxurious world as we know it, complete with lavish cars and million-dollar mansions, is a direct product of greed. Mankind, ever discontent, has designed our current world of surplus.

4. Jealousy: Jealousy is often misconstrued as malice for others or their possessions. By my definition, it is simply a sort of survival instinct. How could you ever improve yourself, or your situation if you didn’t actively recognize that someone else is better off?

5. Paranoia: I hope nobody’s looking at my screen as I write this. Maybe we are alike, and you hope nobody’s looking at what you’re reading either. For our mutual comfort, I haven’t titled this piece anything that would incite a double-take. If you’re a welcoming host, paranoia will seep its way into the most mundane happenings. What would I ever do if someone copied this article, word-for-word and published it before I did? Tragedy would ensue. As the saying goes, only the paranoid survive.

6. Pessimism: Hypothetically, let’s say you’re an optimist. You’re created with your very own ozone layer that absorbs all the pain and suffering you witness, in your immediate vicinity and in the world at large. Your physical person is left unscathed by daily disappointments, but at what cost? Oblivion? I, for one, am relieved to know my course grade on the first day of class and jump-start my petition to retake.

7. Recklessness: You may be someone who causes a lot of collateral damage. The damage can manifest in many ways, be they academic shortcomings, social crises or financial pickles. Yet, whenever you indulge yourself, you’re a pioneer. You obliterate old boundaries. I proclaim you modern-day Meriwether Lewis (or William Clark).

8. Self-Pity: The most charming of the vices, self-pity is a vital ingredient of any kind-hearted persona. Really, it’s rooted in a gracious urge to scale everything to proportion. It’s an attempt to be in touch with your surroundings, and relate various circumstances to your own. Often, those who actively cast themselves in seemingly-negative lights are the ones most conscious of the moods and thoughts of those around them.

Chaos is the natural order of the universe. So, even if the source of your troubles is internal, or if you only feel at peace when you war with yourself, you’re not doomed. Allow me to segue into some unsolicited advice: embrace the chaos. Trust your virtues to battle your vices and emerge victorious (occasionally), and even when they don’t, you, my friend, are one with the universe. You can forgive yourself — vices, virtues and all.

*If you resist this idea, see Vice 2.                                                                           

Disclaimer: I withhold my sympathy from actual criminals.

Priya Kankanhalli is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at pkankanhalli@cornellsun.com. Matters of Fact appears alternating Tuesdays this semester.

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