We will try to understand the difference between a duty and a virtue. The term “Duty” applies to the physical act. Virtue refers to the mental disposition. Duties make up external conduct, virtues internal character.
Now, one may do one’s duty even though one may not like it. Does not fear of punishment very often induce boys to do their work?
Now, let us take some typical examples.
- One boy loves his teacher, and his work.
- Another loves neither the one nor the other, but wants to secure a pass and then an employment, and therefore learns his lesson, however unpleasant it may be.
- A third boy quite like the second dislikes the teacher as well as the work; he does not care even to get an employment; but fears he will be punished if he stays at home, and therefore goes to school and learns the lessens to avoid the unpleasant consequences that may result from his not learning.
Now all the three boys do their duties – but each is prompted by a different motive.
The first does it out of love; the second through hope of reward; the third through fear of punishment. Which of these three possesses a good character, you can easily judge.
Virtue then denotes the development of your higher nature. Now, it is not enough for you to do your duties through hope of reward or fear of punishment. You must gradually learn to love what is right.
Your mind must get into the habit of loving that is good and noble. Unless you love what is right, it will not be easy for you to do what is right. You succeed in any undertaking only when your heart is in it.
A virtuous character helps you to do the right cheerfully and easily. It is the test of how far you have subdued your lower and developed your higher nature. A man who delights in the contemplation of high and pure thoughts remains unaffected by temptation to do wrong. The more he loves what is good, the less hold has evil upon him.