Murder, rape and various forms of thievery fall squarely under the category of evil and few have ever disagreed with that. However, when it comes to our ordinary lives vice is a grey area and its definition is subject to prevailing socioeconomic conditions.
It is a mistake to think we are guided by an inborn sense of morality. Most of our behavior is conditioned by the cultural norms of the day.We have traditionally characterized so many things as wicked and immoral. In some cultures it is being sensual or openly expressing sexuality. In some it is smoking weed or going to a bar. Getting caught watching pornography is universally frowned upon (emphasis on getting caught). I’m sure most religious works have exhaustive lists of various acts that would up your sin tally and I’m sure there were reasons behind those inclusions, some still relevant and some not. Homosexuality was until recently thought to be a grave sin. We can no longer justify that line of thought. It is now rightly considered to be an innate part of someone’s identity.
We are human, we overcome instinct and strive toward perfection. While on that journey, it is important to acknowledge that we are flawed and to be without vice is not a natural state. There is a saying where I’m from, “Any thing in excess is a vice”. Having acquired quite a few on my way to adulthood and then having rid myself of some, I must say that I agree with that. Let me give a mild example. As a child I loved Coca Cola, by the time I got to college it was a full blown addiction. I was chugging a liter per day. I decided to call it a vice and quit once it started taking a toll on my health and am better off for it. However, for most people coke is just a free addition to combo meals.
I think foresight is key to defining and overcoming vice. In college, uncontrolled alcohol consumption might seem fun, but if it turns into alcoholism it will seriously affect your personal and professional life. Behavioral patterns that impair functionality and quality of life need to be identified, analyzed and modified by an individual through self examination, constructive criticism and fierce discipline. This requires much reflection and familiarity with your own strengths and weaknesses.Defining and overcoming vice is a personal quest, to be tailored to your needs.If we as a society manage to raise individuals capable of honest introspection, deep compassion and considerate action; heaven and hell would be rendered irrelevant.