Letter to the editor: Vice and virtue

To the editor:

With my fingertips in the grass and my nose less than a yard from the outside eye of the offensive guard, I was not thinking. To think is to get beat. When the ball moved, I was moving, reacting to movement by the guard, feeling for the tackle, sensing a trap block as my body did things it had been trained to do. My inside foot came forward half-a-step, while the hand on the ground came up with the explosion of my hips to deliver a forearm blow into the guard’s chin. But I was not thinking. All thinking had happened in the prior months during practice and in film rooms.

Aristotle taught that virtue is habit. So is vice. When we act with courage or courtesy or kindness, we are not thinking but reacting. There is never time enough to think. It is why we must teach and practice virtue.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, it seems remarkable that similar events just keep happening. Now in Wisconsin another Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot in the back seven times from less than three feet by an officer who could not have been thinking. If it seems so obvious, then why does it keep happening?

Because we become what we experience. Because an officer under stress does what he’s seen and what’s he’s done so many other times. All people are like that. And those we elect to be president are no different.

Virtue or vice? Past is prologue.

William Skepnek,



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