Virtue & Character

Virtue & Character


Knowledge, Education & Wisdom in Colonial America

knowledge July 12th, 2019

Philosopher/psychologist and distinguished man of letters, Daniel N. Robinson, says much about knowledge, wisdom, and education in the citizenry and the founders at the time of the Declaration of Indpendence and the crafting of the U.S. Constitution. It is very enlightening, and he takes pains to connect the state of affairs then with our horrible political, social, and educational predicament that is so clearly exemplified by corporations, Donald Trump as President, and social media bickering today. It’s not a pretty picture, but one worth taking a long, hard look at. I then follow up his incisive commentary on the Founders with quotes about knowledge, wisdom, and education in modern America. Recall that education is not just about keeping the economy rolling: “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty,” wrote the main architect of the Constitution, James Madison. And this is very important; as modern progressive author, Thom Hartmann puts it, “We need to begin paying attention to the wisdom of the Founders and Framers [of the United States] if our country is to survive.”

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Courage and Willingness to Risk are Virtues

willingness to risk July 4th, 2019

“Immanuel Kant defined enlightenment as the human being’s emancipation from ‘self-incurred minority’. Minority is defined as a condition in which one’s understanding is used only under the authority and direction of another, and minority is self-incurred when it is due not to the immaturity or impairment of the understanding, but because it refuses to trust itself and prefers the comfort and security of tutelage to the risks and responsibilities of thinking for oneself” ~ Allen Wood. This quote is about willingness to risk. That is, when not taken to extremes, one of the values of the wise. This blog explores exploration – of the literal and the metaphoric types.

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Society Needs to Promote Positive Masculinity

positive masculinity June 9th, 2019

My friend noted that in this wonderful story, four teenage boys made a great and courageous effort to save an elderly woman from a burning house. Bravo! We lauded their inspiring, prosocial, and brave act, and I think a difference can be drawn between so-called “toxic masculinity” (which is probably too loaded a term for my comfort) and a more positive masculinity that boys and teens and men exhibit. This blog illustrates what I’m thinking.

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Virtue and Character: Coping with Aging

coping with aging June 7th, 2019

Rush is one of the best bands out there not only for instrumentation, virtuosity, and precision, but also lyrics. Amazingly, the lyrics below are a song written by Neil Peart. It’s a haunting piece about aging, success, confidence, sadness, desperation, and suicide. It’s absolutely remarkable. In the end, I have a link to watch it being performed live. For anyone who tries to reach the pinnacle of performance and the zenith of success, you will no doubt resonate with this melancholy song. Alas, death comes for us all, and as soon as we are born we start dying. For some it reaches the point of absurdity and extreme existential angst. I will add a few quotations for your consideration about life, pain, aging, illness, overcoming, meaning, existentailism, hope, and optimism in the end.

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Confidence & Creativity: Commonwealth Cafe

confidence June 5th, 2019

I met a remarkable guy in 2007. He was an entrepreneur, a risk-taker, and a leader. His sense of humor, his dedication to build something wonderful led to us building and running a wonderful diner, named Commonwealth Cafe. Those days of working extremely hard, reaching to come up with the right plan, and having a lot of fun are treasured by me now, though there is also a deep pain. The licks I took on the project and the skills I learned have paid dividends in subsequent years. It isn’t easy to suffer a major loss, but there was so much merit to the Cafe while it was being built, promoted, and run. It was a really soulful and special place. Leighton Hollingsworth will always have a special place in my heart. We both created a bit of heaven on earth, and went to hell and back.

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Responsibility for Our Fellow Man

responsibility June 2nd, 2019

My wife and I donated five thousand dollars to a local no-cost medical clinic, the Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic. My visit was amazing. It’s a new building, and is at least as nice as my doctor’s. Probably nicer. It was built recently with 100% donations and grants! For an individual making up to about $25,000 a year or a family of four earning around $50,000 annually, primary care and many other specialties are free. Free. It felt like a wonderful asset to our community, which sits in one of the poorest states in the country. Many folks, however, believe that anything “free” is not only a waste of resources, but morally offensive. That is the cult of the individual, and it runs afoul of an important belief underlying progressive politics and moral decency: the responsibility we have for our fellow man (and woman).

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Moderation is Sometimes a Virtue

moderation April 13th, 2019

I saw a picture of a childhood friend today, shaking hands with president Trump. He said he was proud to be shaking the hands of a president – this or any other. I spend so much time in a given week learning about or thinking about the travesties that pass as governance, and feel sometimes like I am stuck in an Orwellian nightmare. I can’t help but feel that if one agrees with Trump as a person, that they are a part of a social group that is diametrically opposed to my sensibilities and philosophies and instincts. And that if they support him as the leader of the free world, they are lost as to what values and virtues such as freedom, responsibility, and the rule of law really mean. I felt much the same way when Bush was in office. It raises some interesting questions not only about friendship, but also partisanship, principles, and temperament. As I reflect on this friendship vis-à-vis the problems in America today, I am asking myself questions about the virtue of moderation – not one of my most familiar values. 

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Inspiration Is About Values + Emotion

inspiration can be found in helping March 25th, 2019

Inspiration, motivation, meaning, fulfillment – the stuff we would buy if it were for sale. Even though pharmaceuticals, sporting events, books, massage, sex, make-up, children, and virtual reality video games are indeed for sale, inspiration is not really able to be purchased directly. You have to grow it in the garden of your mind & soul. Mark S. Albion offers some sage advice: “There is a big difference between more sales or money and more happiness or fulfillment. The kind of growth that seems the most important to people is the kind of growth you can’t count.” Read on to find out more about how inspiration can be understood and ideally, found.

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Songs I’m Thinking About Today

March 16th, 2019

Two deep and inspiring songs that struck me today are the following. Van Halen’s “Dreams” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. Let these masterpieces sink in…

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Old-School Honor and Integrity

honor and integrity March 14th, 2019

I have incredible respect for “old-school” honor and integrity. I fear that it is either American decadence or simply a low point we are experiencing since 2000 that accounts for why people feel that their word doesn’t mean much, that they needn’t put in the effort required to be a person of high character and live a life that is totally in integrity. This is my lamentation lately! I am really let down today, emotionally. Am I being too hard on everyone I have ever met, or are honor and integrity too much to expect from people? 

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