Men and nations are great by the wealth of their virtue, not the virtue of their wealth (2), By Sunday Adelaja


For a nation to be truly wealthy, it must possess a wealth of virtues. This wealth of virtue is reflected in how individual citizens are committed to living out the virtues of the nation. The percentage of the citizenry that embrace and identify with the nation’s virtues, with the nation’s value system, determine the true wealth of that nation. If a vast majority of the population identify and embrace the nation’s value system, then that nation is automatically great.

A good example of such countries would be Singapore, which cannot pride itself in an abundance of natural resources. But yet this country has been able to perform a modern day miracle, by becoming one of the few countries that has succeeded in going from the Third World to the First World in one generation.

Today, Singapore’s per capital GDP is higher than that of the United States of America.

The secret was the uncompromising stand of its leader Lee Kwan Yew, in establishing truth and honesty as principles of building the nation.

Switzerland is another country that was made famous and great by the values that were implanted in the society through the teaching of the famous Protestant pioneer, John Calvin. Switzerland does not possess a vast amount of natural resources, but it is abundantly wealthy in values, virtues and godly principles. Hence, as a result, Switzerland has always been in the top countries with the highest standards of living in the world.

Countries like Japan, Sweden, and Austria are not overly known to be endowed with an abundance of natural wealth. However, because they have developed their wealth of virtues, they live better today than most other countries, through their virtues of natural wealth.

One man whose life was dedicated to proving this truth was Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. He is only one of the two historic personalities on an American dollar bill who has never been president. Yet, he occupies the most conspicuous of places on the hundred dollar bill. Despite not been an American president, he is widely regarded and often more respected than most American presidents. He is seen as one of the greatest Americans to have ever lived. He was truly a renaissance man.

An in-depth study of the true reason for the greatness of nations will always lead a thorough researcher to the factors of values and virtues. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “There never was a truly great man who was not at the same time virtuous.” The same could be said of nations; there never was a truly great nation that was not at the same time virtuous.

Benjamin Franklin is regarded as one of the greatest men and thinkers the world has ever known. He was an author. A painter. An inventor. A politician. An ambassador. He built libraries, hospitals, businesses, insurance companies and even a fire department. He helped write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.

Benjamin Franklin became one of the most productive and self-actualised people in all of history. Yet, all these achievements, he credited to a list of virtues he developed in early life. As a matter of fact, Benjamin Franklin considered working on his thirteen list of virtues as the greatest discoveries he ever made.

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These virtues included:

  • Temperance
  • Silence
  • Order
  • Resolution
  • Frugality
  • Industry
  • Sincerity
  • Justice
  • Moderation
  • Cleanliness
  • Tranquility
  • Chastity
  • Humility

MEN AND NATIONS ARE NOT GREAT BY THE VIRTUE OF THEIR WEALTH, BUT BY THE WEALTH OF THEIR VIRTUES. Benjamin Franklin was a great man by all standards, but more than that, he was one of a few men in history who succeeded in helping to build a great nation. So, we can comfortably learn from him.

The citizens of the land, the peoples of the nation must be made strong in their convictions of values. These values and virtues must become the wealth of the people; they must become their pride. They must be reflected in their lifestyles, their films and industries. This value system must be ingrained in their educational system. They must be proclaimed from their pulpits.

An in-depth study of the true reason for the greatness of nations will always lead a thorough researcher to the factors of values and virtues. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “There never was a truly great man who was not at the same time virtuous.” The same could be said of nations; there never was a truly great nation that was not at the same time virtuous.

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The words of Benjamin Franklin are in unison with the title of this article. Men and nations are great by the wealth of their virtue, not the virtue of their wealth. It is simply not possible. A truly great man is first great in virtues or values before he becomes great in the arena of history.

For a nation to be truly great, it must first identify its values, enumerate its virtues and formulate its value system. But the most tasking of all these is developing a culture in her people that will best represent the proclaimed value systems of the nation.

The citizens of the land, the peoples of the nation must be made strong in their convictions of values. These values and virtues must become the wealth of the people; they must become their pride. They must be reflected in their lifestyles, their films and industries. This value system must be ingrained in their educational system. They must be proclaimed from their pulpits. Homes and families must be built on the wealth of these virtues.

That is what is meant by a nation’s wealth of virtues. For a nation to be truly wealthy, it must possess a wealth of virtues. This wealth of virtue is reflected in how individual citizens are committed to living out the virtues of the nation. The percentage of the citizenry that embrace and identify with the nation’s virtues, with the nation’s value system, determine the true wealth of that nation. If a vast majority of the population identify and embrace the nation’s value system, then that nation is automatically great. Because they will live out these values in their daily life.

Sunday Adelaja is a Nigeria born leader, transformation strategist, pastor and innovator. He was based in Kiev, Ukraine.

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