Is virtue relative? Is there an inherent merit in virtue?
Virtue like kindness, honesty, altruism etc are all relative. In my opinion, no virtue in an absolute sense, has any merit by itself. Merit or otherwise, can only be assessed in the context of the situation in which the act was performed. This may seem puzzling to you.
Here are my thoughts. Consider the following hypothetical situations
Let us say a friend or a relative did not a get a promotion and he comes to you with the news. You know this person fairly intimately. You may feel that this person is not outgoing enough or possibly does not network sufficiently. Will you empathize with him/her or will start lecturing to your friend on their shortcomings. Will you be brutally honest or lend a patient ear. In this case, it may make sense to empathize initially and then possibly lay out the areas of improvement to your friend. We may need to be kind initially and later be tactfully honest.
Consider another situation. You friend or your son/daughter has flunked their exam. Will you berate them on their stupidity? Or will you be nice and accept this failure as a fact of life?
Personally I think it is more important to be kind that to be correct. Honesty is highly-overrated! Kindness, to me, is a far more important virtue in comparison.
However in some situations it is necessary not to mince words and to lay the facts as they are. This sometimes has to be done, so that the person on receiving the input, is able to alter or correct their erroneous ways. If we have to reveal something unpleasant to another person, it is important that we do it in such a way, that it does not hurt the other person.
Intentionally causing emotional pain, when you think you are being honest, is completely unacceptable in my opinion.
In my book, anybody being brutally honest is both stupid and insensitive.
Similarly kindness also makes sense only in certain situations. Some people are evil. They have no intention to change and reason does not work them. In these cases it makes sense to use force to eradicate this evil. A good example is the Mahabharat war where force was mandatory.
Do you have altruistic feelings which makes you drop a few coins, every time, in the bowl of a beggar? Should we or should we not encourage begging? Are we perpetuating begging by our behavior? Should we be thinking on how to we make these people start to look for other avenues to make a living? These are all questions to consider.
In my opinion, no act by itself, can be virtuous or evil. We have to look at the context in its entirety. We will need to look at the long term effect of the act before it can be considered as a virtue or a vice.