Primary Virtue. Humanity.
Humanity 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 show humanity 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.
Humanity 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.
Assertiveness means being positive and confident about ourselves-- our ideas, opinions and talents--and expressing these in the service of our values. It means acting on aspirations and exercising abilities,recognizing that each person is expressive and affirmative in a unique way.
Assertiveness is the positive form of aggressiveness. When we are assertive, we have the strength to resist negative or hurtful influences.We think for ourselves, ask for what we need, and speak up to protect our selves and others.
When we practice assertiveness, we practice self-esteem, citizenship, and valor. Though it may not always seem so, to be assertive is to be a blessing in the world.
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.
Commitment is the state of being bound--emotionally, intellectually, or both--to a particular person or course of action. Commitment starts with a choice (ideally thoughtfully made and aligned with virtuous purpose) and is sustained by dedication and perseverance. Commitment is active – it is expressed and realized in our thoughts and actions.
Commitment is more than just obligation – it is a giving of ourselves, sometimes at high personal cost or risk, to a person or purpose that we find worthy of that gift. Like other forms of giving, commitment can produce some of life's greatest satisfactions.
Honesty is saying what we know or suspect to be real, even when we don’t like the consequences. It is also much more.
Because most deception is actually self deception, true honesty requires that we recognize our natural human penchant for fooling ourselves. In particular, honesty requires that we guard against self-serving biases: our tendency to seek confirmation for what we already believe while ignoring contradictory evidence; our tendency to put blame on others and take credit for ourselves; our tendency to think that what is good for us is good for the world and even to make the gods themselves in our own image.
Honesty is a lifetime process of catching ourselves in falsehood and, however reluctantly, turning away from it.
Perseverance means continuing to work toward a goal even when it takes a long time or things get tough. Without persistence, obstacles stop us; with persistence we learn from our failures – we work with them and use them as stepping stones instead of barriers. Persistence allows us to succeed where otherwise we might fail, because much of what matters in life requires sustained efforts and repeated attempts. The greater the accomplishment we seek, the more likely this is to be true.
Perseverance in the service of a higher goal calls out many other virtues in us, because in order to persist we have to push ourselves beyond what is comfortable.
Trust is confidence in ourselves, others, and our sense of the Divine. Trust takes a risk; in the absence of certainty, is assumes that goodness, truth, honor, fairness, or ability will prevail. For another person to place trust in us is a wonderful and delicate gift.
Sometimes people trust us to be or do more than we can. Children often trust their parents in this way. An expectation of perfection can make trust fragile and brittle so that it is crushed by disappointment. But if we honor trust as a gift and if we honor the vulnerability of the giver, trust can grow through and beyond disappointments.
Trust becomes resilient when it is grounded in reality – when it recognizes the imperfections and yet sees the through-line of goodness that lies beneath and beyond them.