The very power of Virtues and Character Values comes when two or more are experienced or acted upon
I have been scratching my head for some time now. Asking myself – why is it that I hear virtues of Justice, Gratitude, Wisdom, Compassion, Generosity, Love (and more) referred to day by day – and yet they seem to be met by anger, blame and anything to cause division and confusion.
Why? I keep asking.
Together- the Virtues and Character Values encapsulate the Essence of Love. They are good, honourable, life giving and Soul filling. Values like Humility, Compassion, Forgiveness, Integrity, Loyalty, Excellence, Respect, Commitment, Service, Patience, Sobriety (restrained gratification), Accountability, Responsibility – are all wonderful to live by and to create Holy Moments.
In finding a few quotes from G.K. Chesterton – I have at least calmed my search and found a focus.
In 1908, G.K. Chesterton wrote:
“The modern world is not evil; in some ways, the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious or belief system is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the Christian virtues and other beliefs gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and have been wandering alone”
(I wish to note that these virtues existed before Christianity and still exist at present – not necessarily tied to a Religion). These are the virtues that have empowered the lives of billions of people since the beginning.
However we seem to need some framework to live by. A place, a person, a Faith or a belief system – that allows us to relate to our goodness and our failures. The framework generally comes from Faith, Family, Mentors, Associations and Schools.
To me the dysfunction caused by pressure on the Family and the continued irrelevance of any Faith – have been the two keys to virtues gone mad. Faith and Family are in essence the root of our virtues.
Could it be that the desire for goodness without a frame work of guidance makes the virtues go mad?
- A gardener needs more than a shovel to tend, plant and keep the garden looking great. Many other tools are needed.
- A hammer and nails go together. A hammer on its own would otherwise see all things as nails – and pound areas into groves and destroy much.
- Not too many things work in isolation
People want to be good – but left without guidance or a reset option – we define goodness so narrowly, and easily conform to current fashions – and ultimately end up with a partial goodness that is accompanied by a partial blindness and a harmful outcome.
The virtues of Honesty, Tolerance, Patience and Empathy – are not seen to be valuable in the noise of Media and Public Policy.
More importantly – while Compassion and Empathy are valued highly – without the balancing virtues of Gratitude and Acceptance – they can become isolated and create – rather than solve –more problems between people. Life is a balance.
Thus, it is considered compassionate not to judge, not to discriminate, not to hold accountable.
However this mindset can lead to rewarding irresponsible behaviour at the expense of a person taking responsibility for one’s actions or words.
Being compassionate is great – however the person being helped needs to show some Gratitude (a thank you) for the act bestowed upon him or her. It is important for their Character – namely Hope – as well.
The virtue of Empathy is operating in isolation and wreaking havoc.
It is good to be Respectful and Empathetic with people, but not at the cost of Truth and Honesty.
The person or persons receiving the respect and empathy also have a responsibility to build their own character and good life and that usually means being self-honest and truthful about the person they see in the mirror.
Public Authorities, boards and commissions are eager to apologise and defend the offended – however if respect, humility, gratitude and integrity are not provided in return – an expectation culture grows and the apologising simply continues.
Responsibility and Accountability are keys in finding unity of desire and outcome.
Like Newton’s Law of an equal and opposite reaction – virtues need the interaction and support of other virtues.
Otherwise the result is a lamentable muddle of confusion and division.
Chesterton identified humility as another virtue that had lost its proper place.
“Humility is almost a God-like word. It has sense of awe – a sense of wonder. Has an awareness of the human soul and spirit. An understanding that there is something unique about the human drama versus the rest of life. Humility is a grasp of the distance between us and the stars, yet having the feeling that we’re part of the stars”…Jim Rohn.
Humility accepts that whoever we are – all of who we are and what we achieve – is dependent upon others. Not just on our Ambition and Vision.
Humility is perhaps the most important virtue in leadership. We all need people to achieve our Vision and to help others achieve their own Vision. As Jim Rohn states – Humility is powerful.
With Humility comes Trust, Respect and Loyalty. To build a great team – these virtues need to be reciprocated by the team members. Without the common transference of these – Humility will come to be seen as weakness. The leader will be pushed around. Humility will be returned with poor performance, dysfunction and distrust.
The Virtue of Humility on the loose would have gone mad.
The whole premise of Virtues and Values is to help each of us become better people and live the life we were born to live. To help us live our Purpose and to the find a Meaning in our life.
We are all different. Our needs are different. Our challenges are different. Our dreams are different.
The true value in living with virtues and values is that we live peacefully and get along with others. Kindness (with a smile) and Compassion (by helping) – need companions to become a powerful force.
A smile could be returned by the other in Gratitude. A form of help could be accepted by another with Humility and appreciation.
Virtues need other virtues to create a peaceful culture.
Heroes grow through service, humility, responsibility and acceptance.
Victims are nourished by anger, entitlement, and expectation from others by returning no virtue at all.
“There is a need to honour all the virtues and hold them in balance.
Virtues need the interaction and support of other virtues.
On the loose or in isolation they go mad” Mario C