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Posts Tagged ‘warrior virtues’

From Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

 : continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering : steadfastness

From Our Own Druidry (82)

Drive; the motivation to pursue goals even when that pursuit becomes difficult

This is a virtue that I struggle with sometimes. Many things in my life have come easily (like academic study) and so when I am met with a challenge that I can’t think my way through, solve by thinking, or quickly figure out, I tend to get frustrated and give up. I also struggle with mental illness that can make motivation a very fickle trait. I am working more toward both of these definitions, though I especially like the word “steadfastness” as a synonym. This isn’t about completing tasks, or even (or especially) about succeeding at them – it’s about sticking with things, even when they get tough or annoying or boring, because you know that they have value. As a virtue of Druidry, it’s about getting your butt on a cushion and meditating, even when you don’t feel much like it, or even when you’re anxious or worried or distracted, because you have decided this path has value, and so you’re going to do it.

In some ways, perseverance can even make a task easier – there is some level of value in something truly fought for, something you really have to put your blood sweat and tears into. I made a lot of very good grades in college, but the A I earned in my second semester of Latin is one of the grades I am most proud of, because I poured my entire being into that class, with a professor who averaged two A’s a semester. I knew it would be tough, but I knew I wanted that A, and I was going to work for it even when I felt like stabbing myself in the eyeball with a pencil because of the complicated translations. Without that drive, I would easily have settled for a lower grade.

I think Wisdom needs to temper Perseverance as well. Much like anything, it is good to know when you should stick it out and try to finish something, and when you should count your losses and move on. It is both “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “Choose the hill you’re going to die on” – choosing the things that are most important to you, and then really sticking to them, with integrity and courage.

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From Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness

From Our Own Druidry (82)

Honor; being trustworthy to oneself and to others, involving oathkeeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence.

For me, this is probably the most important virtue of the lot – it’s the one from which all the others branch out. Integrity is a core tenet of how I try to live my life, and it’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to. I generally dislike the term “honor”, as it’s too easy for that word to be abused to mean “what society thinks you should do for the better of society”. This isn’t to say that integrity isn’t often influenced by societal norms, but that in the end, integrity is a condition of the self. It encompasses all three parts of the dictionary definition. True integrity is incorruptible (it doesn’t waver under pressure); it is conditionally sound (it is consistent within itself); and it is complete and undivided (it encompasses all aspects of life).

Of course, that’s an impossible standard for any human to live up to, but I think it’s a goal worth striving for. To me, integrity is my willingness to make a decision about what I think is right (which includes elements of the virtue of Wisdom, and also of Vision), to stick up for it when it is challenged (Courage and Perseverance), and ultimately to increase my ability to interact with fairness towards others (Hospitality and Moderation). It includes uncompromising honesty – something I strive for, even when it might have negative consequences.

For example, I was recently selected for municipal court jury duty, but I put the summons somewhere where it got shuffled into the paperwork on my desk and I flat out didn’t show up on the day I was called. Instead of making up some excuse about why I couldn’t be there (when I finally remembered about it two weeks later), I told the court administrator the truth. She was understanding, and I was given a new day to show up for jury service. But I was prepared to be told I needed to pay a hefty fine for that mistake. Still, I would rather have told the truth than lied about it (as I was encouraged to do by my coworkers).

That’s a good example of my trying to live up to integrity – but my still being “closeted” about being Pagan can sometimes cause me to not live up to this virtue, or at least, to not live up to it fully. I don’t lie about my religious beliefs, but I definitely dodge the question, and I give off the impression (knowingly) of still being Christian to my extremely Christian family (and to my workplace). This does bother me, but I don’t yet have the courage (or the desire to cause damage to my family or create weirdness at my job) to change that, so I live with an aspect of my life that doesn’t live up to this virtue as well.

Nothing bothers me more than people who are cruel in the name of honesty, however, which is why this virtue is also about fairness, and wisdom, and courage, and vision, and even (to some extent) moderation. It’s the virtue that the whole system hinges on, in my view. I’m not always very good at keeping to it, when things get very tough, but this is one of the most important virtues for me.

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From Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

From Our Own Druidry (82)

The ability to act appropriately in the face of danger.

Courage, as a religious virtue, I see as being tied up in the idiom to have the “courage of one’s convictions” – to stick to your beliefs in the face of criticism. This is a big deal for modern Neopagans, who often face disapproval for their beliefs, and can (in some places) face active discrimination for them. But courage isn’t just sticking up for your beliefs in an outward way, when antagonized or questioned by others. It’s also having the strength to live up to what you say you’ll do. It takes courage to keep promises to yourself and your Gods. Danger can be seen in a number of ways, from outward dangers presented by others to the inward dangers of self-sabotage. It means standing up to your fear of success as much as your fear of failure. I absolutely hate the platitude “feel the fear and do it anyway”, but I think it’s an appropriate definition of courage.

As someone who lives with chronic anxiety and PTSD, I am well acquainted with fear – both rational and irrational. Courage, to me, is knowing that fear is a feeling. Danger may be real, but fear is a feeling, or a thought – and feelings and thoughts can be challenged and changed. The courageous act is the best one you can make in the circumstances, and it is courageous afterward to forgive yourself for what you couldn’t do in the moment.

This is a virtue well worth cultivating, even if we are not frequently faced with mortal danger in our daily lives. Perhaps courage can be summoned as we deal with the stresses of modern life, standing up for ourselves and what we need and believe in, even if we’re not likely to get eaten by a bear.

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