And this is where I become unpopular, but hark what is this sound of silence?.... Oh that is the sound of me not caring :)
Before I begin with my discussion on the virtues essay for this portion of my submission, I would like to state a few opinions of the concept of virtue. First and foremost I think that before one can consider weather or not a concept is a virtue, one must consider virtue itself. What is virtue? What does virtue mean to me? How do people in modern society see and apply virtue? How did the ancestors see virtue? How can I develop a set of virtues that coincide with my own defined ethics and morality? The preceding questions, I feel, are ones that need to be seriously contemplated before a determination can be made on if a concept is a virtue. This being said, I do agree with some of the virtues in the Dedicant Program and others I do not, for reasons I will try to convey in my essay.
D.P. Definition: Good judgment, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate about and decide on the correct response.
Cambridge Dictionary Definition: ( American English) ability to make good judgments based on what you have learned from your experience, or the knowledge and understanding that gives you this ability.
Although the D.P and the Dictionary definitions are basically saying the same thing I would not consider wisdom to be a virtue. I would define wisdom as the accumulated knowledge , depth of experiences and evolution of morality over a lifetime. Although I do not agree with wisdom as a virtue, it is most certainly the product of a virtuous life. With wisdom there is a very important question to consider: when is wisdom achieved? In modern society there is a slew of circumstances that our fellow man or woman come from. For example, you have people who are born into poverty, riches, and somewhere in-between. There are those who are born in poverty and achieve riches and those who had riches who have lost it all only to live in poverty. The most beautiful thing about wisdom is that one has the choice of weather or not it is achieved. The treasure of wisdom is open to anyone that will have it on the condition of patience. Wisdom is certainly a gift to be treasured and cherished, passed on to the next generation. However, as the accumulated depth of character and the result of experiences over a lifetime, wisdom cannot be a virtue. I would replace wisdom with Knowledge. Knowledge, not so much as in scholastic or amount, but the quality and depth of the learned knowledge one has attainted so far. I feel that knowledge would be a much better fit in a set of virtue.
D.P. Definition: Correct Observance of ritual and social traditions; the maintenance of the agreements (both and societal) , we humans have with the Gods and Sprits. Keeping in the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty.
Cambridge Dictionary Definition: ( American English) strong belief in God or a religion, shown by your worship and dutiful behavior
The related adjective is pious.
Now, piety is a tricky one. The argument can be made that piety can and cannot be considered a virtue. I feel that piety is not a virtue but not only do most virtuous people have a form of piety, but the concept of piety can lead to a virtuous life. I would define piety as duty in a religious aspect. Going one step farther, one could also consider piety as service to a religion but not limited to religion. As far as the dutifulness aspect of piety is concerned one could be pious is in exercise routine, daily devotionals, prayer, dieting, story telling, or even just making an appearance to the High Day Rites or holding their own. Although some of what I mentioned are of a religious nature others are not, the reason for this is that I feel that piety is also subjective to the individual. A further example would be to a Christian, piety is a firm and structured life lived “as Christ would” or in accordance with what the bible teaches but to a pagan, piety is as individual to the paths that we follow. My own “piety” would be that no matter what I will not miss a high day, even if I have to throw a ritual together in a hotel room with a candle I found in the gift shop. Some other forms of “piety” I practice are writing guided meditations and poems to be included in ritual. The guided meditation is especially powerful because I try to convey an aspect of the Being of the occasion in order to as a Grove, try to connect to them in a more intimate way other than just giving an offering. My most favorite form of “piety” would be the construction of ritual/ “druid” tools. I cannot consider piety a virtue because someone who is not an honorable or virtuous person can still be dedicated to a religious path or still be helpful with family and the community. On the other hand I can also consider piety a virtue because I feel that anyone who is virtuous will also be pious. I have replaced Piety with Service. Service to the Gods, Grove, community, family and friends, and to anyone who would seek the Druid. I believe as a Druid I have a responsibility to others as guide, shoulder to cry on and defender of those who are too weak to stand up for themselves. While I may not have many life experiences to help everyone through everything but sometimes someone who can understand pain can be the difference in someone’s life. I believe Service is a much better fit for a set of virtue.
D.P. Definition: The ability to broaden one's perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present and future
Cambridge Dictionary Definition: (Advanced Learner’s) idea or mental image of something; an experience in which you see things which do not exist physically, when your mind is affected powerfully by something such as deep religious thought or drugs or mental illness
Through much consideration and refection I cannot believe that vision is not a virtue. My definition for vision would be: seeing with the mind wide open to perceive the world around us. Everyone from the most noble to the most wicked can use vision as a powerful tool for manifestation. Weather it was George Washington or Adolph Hitler, it can be said that all great men and women in history have had vision. Of course, the byproduct of said visions can have glorious benefits or end with glorious tragedy. With that being said vision cannot be considered a virtue for if everyone can have, or did have vision, vision itself would not be a virtue. The virtuous, decent people alive in the past and present will of course have good vision, which will because of their own virtuousness will have great benefits to those around them. So the question I pose is this: Is the vision the virtue or the effects / results of what ever the vision is virtuous? I certainly believe that vision is a good quality to have for if Issac Bonewits did not have vision it is quite possible that ADF wouldn’t exist today. I also believe that vision is a result of being virtuous although not a requirement. I would like to propose that Truth is a better fit in a set of virtue rather than vision. Truth in all things. As a Druid, a seeker of knowledge, I feel should also be a seeker of truth. I believe that a Druid has the moral and ethical obligation to seek the truth in all matters to range from inter-personal arguments to our role and place in the cosmos. Truth is something that I personally hold dear to my own morality and also one can relate truth with honor and knowledge. From the time we are infants we take the word of tribe as truth until we grow old enough to seek the truth and then we may make mistakes along the way but as a wise one once said, “the Truth shall set you free”.
D.P. Definition: The ability to act appropriately in the face of danger.
Cambridge Dictionary Definition: ( American English ) the ability to control fear or to deal with something that is dangerous, difficult, or unpleasant
Courage in my belief, is irrevocably a virtue. My own definition of courage is the ability to stand in spite of opposition. In all aspects of life I see that courage will manifest itself in one form or another. Speaking from my own experiences, there are several times in the past where I have had to stand up for what I believe is right even though it was an extremely unpopular choice and will always do so in the future. I am extremely passionate about courage and feel that it is one of the most beautiful virtues. Courage can be embodied by everyone, from the lonely High School girl standing up for what she thinks is right to the solider who volunteers his life in order to make a stand and defend those who cannot defend themselves. Or even the friend to stand by your side when they don’t have to. Courage is most definitely one of my favorite aspects of the human condition.
Honor; being trustworthy to oneself and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence
Cambridge Dictionary Definition: ( American English; Honesty variation) the quality of being honest and having strong moral principals.
Integrity is something that I feel is important for everyone to have not to be limited to the virtuous. My definition of virtue is simply to act in accordance with one’s word. Even though the dictionary and Dedicant definitions are worded differently they both boil down to is honesty. Integrity is something that is very important to me. I am a man of my word and I expect that from others, which I know is unrealistic. However, I feel that integrity is a very easy thing to achieve as well as maintain but with societal conditioning it makes it very difficult for some individuals. For a broad example, the media is rife with examples of people who lie and get away with it weither it be in television shows, cartoons, or radio. With that being said, I do not feel that Integrity is a virtue. Within the definitions of Integrity, I see a potential flaw: subjectivity. Weather it is oath-keeping, adherence to a moral code or convictions, trustworthiness, or even honor this concept is as diverse as the people who walk this world with us. To site the obvious example, the Sidhe. They are quite well known for their ability to manipulate their word and promises to get exactly what they want. I think that instead of integrity for a set of virtue, I would replace it with responsibility. As a Druid I feel that I have a responsibility to not only be an honest and trustworthy person. To, relating to courage of course, have the ability to stand for what is honest and true. Also, not limited to a responsibility to be honest but a responsibility to be loyal to friends and grove. Finally, A responsibility to oneself, for if one lies to themselves there is no hope for virtue.
Drive; the motivation to pursue goals even when that pursuit be-comes difficult
Cambridge Dictionary Definition: ( American English ) to try to do or to continue doing something in a determined way despite difficulties.
Perseverance is most definitely a virtue. I would define perseverance as the refusal to give up. This concept is closely related to almost each and every concept of virtue. In the examples I have previously mentioned as well as the ones listed in the supplemental virtue articles as well as the ones required for essay. Weather it is truth, courage, knowledge, integrity, or piety; perseverance will help achieve and maintain these concepts of virtue. The commonality of my own, the D.P., and dictionary also help to affirm that the definition of perseverance is also pretty well understood and agreed upon. I also believe that the presence of this concept can and will give someone that little extra to keep going and achieve a virtuous life. Perseverance is also what sets apart failure and success. Success could be in business, an aspect of a religion or even the pursuit of a spiritual path as a whole. Perseverance is also closely related with the human condition. From all aspects of life and backgrounds the inexplicable drive for success is a powerful motivator. This aspect of perseverance is also not so inexplicable in certain cases for some things that would require perseverance will also have strong personal convictions to go along with the drive. There is a primal and encoded ability in the human psyche with perseverance and I for one I think this is a great quality to have.
Acting as both a gracious host and an appreciative guest, involving benevolence, friendliness, humor, and the honoring of 'a gift for a gift'
Cambridge Dictionary definition: (American English) kindness and friendly behavior, especially to guests.
Hospitality, without contest, is definitely a virtue. I also feel that to be a Druid, one must understand hospitality and put forth the conscious effort to make it apart of a Drudic lifestyle. Without hospitality we could not have ritual as we have them today. I have been to several Celtic Reconstructionst and ADF rituals and as far as I can deduce from being an active participant in both, each ritual style is built upon the concept for hospitality. The easiest way to show hospitality in a ritual is by taking a look at the way offerings are given. When whom ever chooses the Being of the occasion, not only are offering specifically given to honor them, when offering are given to the others who are invited hospitality has been expertly achieved because they our the guests, so we must of course give them gifts. Also when the omen is asked, a gift donates a gift so in receiving the gifts of the kindreds and the Being of the occasion, hospitality is demonstrated. I can’t talk about hospitality with out mentioning the story of Bran, He accepted the gift of his guests even though he knew it was poisoned. In spite of the knowledge of what the Fomor intended to do, he accepted the gift in order to maintain hospitality. Which I might also add, is an impeccable example of courage as well.
Cultivating one's appetites so that one is neither a slave to them nor driven to ill health, (mental or physical), through excess or deficiency
Cambridge Dictionary: ( American English) being within a middle range in size, amount, or degree; neither great or little (the previous definition is for moderate, moderations being the noun form of the word.)
I am having conflicted emotions of moderation as a virtue but have come to the realization that it is not. I am very much a fan of Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics”. The entire basis on what was considered a virtue in Aristotle’s view was a balance between excess and deficiency. Trying to find the perfect median between the two points would create “arete” or excellence. To me this is exactly what moderation is. I would define moderation as the balance between two points. My definition would also have subjective meaning so the balance between excess and deficiency, if you will, is completely up to the individual. Personally, I feel there is absolutely nothing wrong with the pursuit of excellence and it is a wonderful thing to achieve. As relating to all the virtues listed in the D.P. moderation is important to find the perfect balance within each virtue to find that perfect point for which one can succeed. With my conclusions about moderation, I cannot agree with moderation as a virtue for it is the framework that virtue is built upon.
Bounty of mind, body and spirit, involving creativity, production of objects, food, works of art, etc., an appreciation of the physical, sensual, nurturing
Cambridge Dictionary Definition: ( Advanced Learner‘s): (of animals and plants) the quality of being able to produce young or fruit
Out of all of the virtues on the list, fertility is the one that I disagree with the most. As many times as I re-read the D.P. definition or as much as I think about it I cannot grasp fertility as a virtue. Now with that being said I will give fertility its proper due. Fertility is an essential human function, we grow our food, feed ourselves and our children, procreate and also in nature’s cyclical nature fertility is one of the building blocks to keep the eco-system running. However I always come back to this commonality: potential. No matter which way I break it down it is potential. Potential as in the field are not always fertile and people and animals do not always procreate. In speaking into the creativity aspect of the D.P. definition, this is also not only a separate concept but also a potential as well. Creativity is not facilitated by a fertile mind, but it is the potential for beauty. Beauty in writing, song, artwork, blacksmithing or even in sensuality. Therefore in dealing with fertility as a potential, it cannot be a virtue in my eyes for a potential is not the balance between excess and deficiency.