When reading a blog post by the psychologist and former evangelical Valerie Tarico I came upon her creation Wisdom Commons, a place to “explore, elevate, and celebrate our shared moral core.” As you may know like Valerie I am also a deconvert, a former evangelical, and in the absence of my faith tradition I’ve asked myself:
What do I believe?
But the more important question I’ve come to realize is:
What do I value?
Valerie’s website helped me to identify what virtues are important to me. I expect them in myself and am attracted to them in others. If I lose sight of them I feel not right, off, and gross about myself. When I see them in myself and others I feel peace, hope, and joy.
On the website you can create your own wisdom page and can share your bits of wisdom with quotes, poetry, fables, proverbs, videos, pictures, etc. Additionally, you are asked to rank your top seven virtues out of many (I’m going to ballpark and say 100?) virtues.
I’m curious to know:
What are YOUR top seven virtues?
If picking seven is too much work, what one or two virtue(s) jump out of you right away and speak to you? I’d love to know so that I can get to know you better.
Here are mine in order. They’ve always been with me, as a Christian and now as an agnostic atheist:
Here are descriptions of each one:
“Growth means we are constantly transforming. Even though the change may be almost imperceptible, our mental state, skills, and ways of acting in the world are becoming more and more aligned with our goals.
When we value growth, we are open and curious, and we appreciate constructive feedback even if it is awkward or painful to us. We recognize our imperfections, but work to forgive them and to move on. We seek to understand ourselves and others because understanding gives us choices. As we move through our day to day activities, we ask ourselves how those activities serve our dreams, our mission, or our sense of what matters most.”
“Insight is the ability to grasp the key elements of a complex subject, person or situation. Insight can be focused internally as an honest awareness of our own feelings and motivations or externally as an understanding of what is true and important in the world around us.
Insight may be partly a function of reasoning skills, but it also grows out of a patient process of introspection, contemplation, or study. A wise friend or counselor can act as a mirror, reflecting back our fragments of insight and adding their own so that we can see the whole.”
“Kindness means that we recognize that others are fragile–that we have the power to hurt or heal them–and we choose to be healers. When we are kind, we don’t take advantage of our power or of other people’s vulnerabilities. Instead, we seek to comfort, encourage and strengthen those around us.
To be kind requires empathy: we must consciously attune ourselves to the life experience of another being to know what will feel good for them. Kindness builds confidence, because it lets us see others in all of their complicated, needy humanity, rather than putting them on pedestals.
Kindness does not ask whether it will be repaid. Even so, our kindness often ripples through the world around us; it invites others to be kind in turn.”
“Curiosity is a hunger to explore and a delight in discovery. When we are curious, we approach the world with a child-like habit of poking and prodding and asking questions. We are attracted to new experiences. Rather than pursuing an agenda or a desired set of answers, we follow our questions where they lead.
Socially, curiosity lets us really listen to other people because we want to know who they are. We open ourselves to the morsels of knowledge and experience they can share with us. We relish having discoveries of our own to share.
Curiosity makes us interested in a broad range of information about the world around us, not only that with direct utility. We learn for the joy of learning.”
“Love is valuing the joy and pain of another being like we value our own. We instinctively seek our own happiness and take action to relieve our own discomfort; love makes us instinctively do the same for others.
Love is not merely service (action) nor is it merely delight in the beloved (infatuation), though it can express itself in both of these. Loving someone means being able to choose what is best for them over what is best for us. Desire and possessiveness are false love because in both the focus is on us–our needs and wants. Sometimes love means letting go.
Love makes life rich by making us part of something bigger than ourselves.”
“To speak truth, we must seek truth. Truth-seeking requires persistence and humility. When we seek truth in any form, we are seeking to understand some small aspect of the Reality that created and encompasses us all. A commitment to truth-seeking will sometimes takes us outside our comfort zone, obliging us to admit things we would rather deny or calling us to difficult action.
Truth-seeking requires that we grow beyond a sense of shame at discovering ourselves mistaken. We strive to replace this with acceptance or even pleasure that we can grow and that others can outgrow us. It means being willing to subsume our opinions and preferences to a higher calling. Our yearning for truth must exceed our yearning to prove ourselves right, if reality is to guide our action, compassion and love.”
“Humor is the ability to laugh at ourselves – to brighten any situation or conversation by finding the light, quirky dimensions. Humor helps us to forgive or to admit our own errors. It diffuses conflict. It makes hard times less heavy. When we cultivate humor, we are letting go of other emotions: bitterness, resentment, or anger.
Like nothing else can, humor allows us see things in a new light: the foolishness of our preoccupations, our hypocrisies and inconsistencies, our tendency to see ourselves as the center of the universe. Used wrongly humor can be cruel or distancing. But in the service of other virtues, humor brings us together and helps us grow.”
So tell me:
What virtues are important to YOU?