I have always been captivated by structures of virtue. It’s amazing how many components there are within virtue. When we consider the values of life, and the strengths by which we live our lives by faith, these virtues help us imagine life in ways to better enjoy it and to enhance our spirituality and relationships.
The following poetic vignettes centre on six broad categories of virtue, specifically the Strengths of Virtue (Peterson and Seligman, 2004).
1. Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge
When strengths of wisdom and knowledge are at play,
Creativity, curiosity, and open-mindedness too,
Our outlooks of perspective perceive a new day,
And our discernment holds more to what’s true.
Life is the learning ground. When we seek truth through curiosity, open-mindedness, creativity, and perspective we grow in wisdom and knowledge, and life has abundance about it.
2. Strengths of Courage
When strengths of courage are open for exhibit,
Items of bravery, persistence, and integrity,
Life’s at full charge with no energy to inhibit,
And our gumption meets the joy within reality.
It’s been said that courage underpins all virtue, for virtue is only tested when the going gets tough. Courage may take us further than anything else in the pursuit of virtue and abundance.
3. Strengths of Humanity
When strengths of humanity come with their gentle effect,
As love and kindness and social intelligence meet,
God’s purposes in our lives are there to direct,
And our interpersonal worlds find cheer to greet.
Beyond humanism, stands the virtue of brotherly and sisterly love. Kindness, generosity, nurturance, care, and compassion are abundantly virtuous and relational.
4. Strengths of Justice
When strengths of justice advocate for the vulnerable,
Citizenship, fairness, and leadership on display,
Actualities of integrity are innumerable,
And our sense for equity tolerates no shades of grey.
Justice is balance in the community of society. Justice is fairness in the relational life. Justice is leadership in the upholding of right values.
5. Strengths of Temperance
When strengths of temperance come home within,
That is forgiveness and mercy, humility and prudence,
Self-control is the mandate beyond sin,
And our enjoyment of life finally has credence.
Self-control has both intrapersonal and interpersonal agendas. We need to self-regulate and exercise prudence. If life is to go well, we need to also develop the capacity for forgiveness and mercy, as well as submit to God in humility.
6. Strengths of Transcendence
When strengths of transcendence come to be ours,
Gratitude, hope, creative beauty, and awe,
Our sense of wonder indeed endows,
And our elevation open’s the divine door.
Transcendence is a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the awe and wonder enfolded within creation and existence. Transcending the barriers to ourselves is often about hopefulness, humour, and a correct spirituality of faith and purpose. Only the Spirit of God gives us the correct basis for transcendence through faith.
The Greatest Goal – To Nurture Strengths of Virtue
Nurturing strengths of virtue is blessed,
Learning opportunities for life are addressed,
Mysteries won of grace and good cheer,
When the good life’s held abundantly dear.
The greatest single goal any of us could aspire to, besides our allegiance to and furthering our knowledge of God, is to hone our characters in virtue.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (New York, New York: Values in Action Institute/APA, Oxford University Press, 2004).