I absolutely love Alexander McCall Smith’s writings, with his gentle and engaging tales from the contrasting locations of Botswana and Scotland. Of his series, my favourite is the books about Isabel Dalhousie, in which we’re treated to the inner ruminations of a philosopher as she navigates ordinary life, considering and confronting the myriad moral dilemmas she – and we – face everyday, sometimes unknowingly.
I saw an interview with Smith once where he discussed writing about virtue, not vice. Doesn’t it say something about most of our popular fiction, that he could distinguish his work in such a manner? That lead me to think about much of the entertainment I watch: mysteries, dramas, adventures … most of these have some form of vice as their central theme.
Are we distorting our view of the world, by focussing so much on vice, rather than virtue? Or is nature truly red in tooth and claw, and attempts to live morally mere constructs of human vanity? What do you think?
I think I’ve decided that focussing on virtue rather than vice is no bad thing. I think I will choose to seek out more fiction with an emphasis on virtue.
Perhaps this will make the world seem a more livable place, a more enjoyable place, a place in which it is easier to enjoy good mental health.