Part of what makes life confusing today is the change of language and the indefiniteness of our wording. Take the words values and virtues. Before reading the rest of this post, pause. Can you define each as separate entities? They’re words we hear all the time, words we use all the time, but what does each really mean?
We talk about Family values, Christian values, American values, human values, but what are these values exactly, and are you sure you don’t mean Family virtues, Christian virtues, American virtues, human virtues or other such virtues? How can you be certain unless you are certain of the definition of values and virtues.
What Does Value Mean?
Value used to mean how much something was worth. You could determine the value of a parcel of land, a day’s work, and an item you were putting up for sale. Items had value. People even had value. They were worth something. Their time was worth something. Their work, their intelligence, their skill and talent and abilities were worth something. They were valuable. They had value, and each of us had value dependent on what we could do, how hard we were willing to work, and how needed we were at that particular time and in that particular place.
Today, we are told to value each others’ values, to judge no value as more important than anyone else’s. This means the fact that I value a tulip over a dandelion while someone else may value the dandelion is fine, but it also means that I value the dandelion
What is a Virtue?
Today, value has been been confused with personal traits and moral worth. This moral worth is a virtue. Virtue is right conduct and, while values may change over time and place, virtues are fairly consistent throughout time and across cultural differences. A person who is honest even in the face of trial is trusted no matter when or where she exists. A person who is brave in the face of danger is respected no matter when or where she exists. A person who reaches out to the downtrodden is admired no matter when or where she exists.
When we speak of virtuous people, we tend to think in old fashioned terms but virtuous people are so needed in society today and knowing what virtues you admire and want to emulate is important in discovering the path that is best for you. Knowing what virtues you possess and which you’d like to work on helps define the person you are called to be.
The first step is determined by understanding the difference between a value and a virtue. Once you understand your virtues, you can begin to use them to build what you value.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance,
endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.
Explain the difference between value and virtue in your own words.
TRP Life Coaching Assignment:
- Think of as many virtues as you can in 10 minutes. Put them into three categories: Those you have, those you want, and those you don’t value.
- Aristotle named four cardinal virtues which are also named in the Catholic catechism: courage, justice, wisdom, and moderation.