Posts Tagged ‘courage’

One of the things I’ve been working on while away from my blog has been the ADF Dedicant program.

 

1: Written discussions of the Dedicant’s understanding of each of the following nine virtues:

Wisdom:  Wisdom is an understanding of the universe both broad enough and deep enough that one can understand the impact of his decisions. Only then can one be held truly accountable for his deeds. This isn’t a requirement that one possess any form of omniscience, only a mingling of “common sense” and enough experience that one understands that Deed A provokes Reaction A and, perhaps, a moral maturity that allows one to prefer certain outcomes to others. It is this experiential aspect to wisdom that makes our earthly elders worthy of respect as repositories of wisdom. As one lives and learns, he sees with his own eyes that the worlds work a certain way. The deeper the understanding of how one’s decisions impact the greater community and the earth herself the greater one’s wisdom can be said to be. I follow Aristotle in insisting that wisdom is incompatible with mis-deeds. Wisdom promotes courage by allowing us to see when and where we should stand and fight and the awful consequences of cowardice. Wisdom chooses our fears, but we do not allow our fears to choose our deeds. Wisdom is a cornerstone of piety. Wisdom tempers courage and forges it. Wisdom allows our practice of simplicity to be sincere and effective. Wisdom helps us find our proper place so that our piety is not in vain.

Piety:  Piety is an understanding of one’s proper place in the world of men and spirits and striving to fill that role in relation to one’s self, one’s community and the Earth herself. Arrogance is assuming a higher place than one has earned. Derogance is assuming a lower place in hopes of avoiding the responsibilities. None of this is to argue a fascist position that one is born into a hierarchy and need stay where one was born. Piety is that desire to preserve those traditions of that past that still serve us well and to promote new ideas still in harmony with the folk and the Gods when old ideas no longer serve. The individual has a responsibility to gather knowledge and grow in wisdom and strength in order to better serve the community and the Gods. This is the common view of piety; that one respect and honor and obey the Gods. But this narrow view fails to encompass such specifics as “filial piety” and fails to recognize that all deeds are either pious or impious. Every one of us is born to be a steward, a teacher, and a servant. Knowing what causes to serve is wisdom and serving them as well as possible is piety. Piety requires wisdom and courage. It supports perseverance by reminding us that we strive not for ourselves alone.

Vision:  Vision is that intellectual ability to gaze into the future and see what could be and what should be. It balances one’s desires for a better future with an understanding of what is possible, what is likely, what is desirable and what is mere fantasy. In this, it is dependent on wisdom. Once one can discern what is possible and good, one must then have a vision of how to achieve such a future in a manner that doesn’t undo the good inherent in the vision. A vision of material comfort and physical safety for all people everywhere is a fantasy. But it’s made worse if one rests that vision on denying personal freedom and responsibility. In this way, our vision must be curbed by the constraints of reality and an appreciation of the necessity of imperfection. Vision requires wisdom. Vision is the foundation of integrity. It is meaningless without courage. Every act taken in furtherance of our vision is a manifestation of fertility.

Courage: Courage is the capacity to make decisions out of compassion and love rather than fear. Whether it is a physical deed or a word spoke, courage is the decision to act (or refrain from acting) based on the needs of a moment and the future rather than one’s instinct for immediate self-preservation. It is almost cliché to quip that courage is seeing the danger and proceeding anyway. For my youngest son, jumping into the deep end of the pool requires courage where it doesn’t for his older brother or myself. We see no danger. But something troubles the youngest and he shakes and he knows something awful stands before him as he approaches the edge of the pool. Fear begs him to back away, it insists that he preserve himself and stand. If he lets fear make this decision, he loses more than an afternoon playing in the water. So, we ask him, “What do you do when you can’t be brave?” And he answers, “You pretend to be brave.” He still shakes. He still feels the fear. Sometimes…he jumps. We become brave by doing brave deeds. It is vital though that we learn authentic courage rather than simply acquiring a “fear of fear.” Courage is required for all good deeds. Nothing is easy. As I said; we cannot let fear make decisions for us. This is not the same as embracing foolhardiness and risk for its own sake. We do not court danger but we cannot let fear move us to act in ways that do not further the cause of Right and Good. We hold our values and our honor so closely that, when the time comes to give our lives in defense of our values and in pursuit of the Good, it will seem as though our lives meant nothing to us. But this courage must be tempered by wisdom lest it become a recklessness that does more harm than good. All other virtues are mere echoes without courage. But without wisdom, courage is simply foolhardiness.

Integrity: Integrity is one’s commitment to live according to his vision of what his own life should be. A man who can be counted on to always be selfish and greedy exhibits integrity when he encourages others to live so and never fails to serve himself first. That is integrity…but it lacks wisdom and piety. It is far more common for people to praise the good and claim to serve it even as they fail again and again to accomplish deeds or serve causes that further the good. It isn’t usually the case that people are devious servants of Evil, but we are far too often complacent and lazy. We mean it when we lament the evils we encounter. But that sincerity is not always enough to overcome the inertia of our modern, sedentary lives. When one possesses integrity, you can see their beliefs in their deeds. Integrity is the honest pursuit of one’s vision. It is the act of manifesting one’s piety. It requires courage and perseverance.

Perseverance: Perseverance is the virtue of not quitting. It really is that simple. You’re hungry? Don’t quit. You’re tired? Don’t quit. You’re unappreciated? Don’t quit. You’re going to fail anyway? Don’t quit. When we pursue our chosen goals, we will meet obstacles. Some of them beneath our notice, some easily dealt with, and some that make us question whether the goal is worth the effort. There is nothing wrong with questioning and re-evaluating a goal. And it is inevitable that sometimes we will fail. Perseverance is that attribute that allows us to push past reasonable doubt and push toward the goals that we have chosen. It is the ability to push past physical pain, intellectual doubt and the spiritual dark night of the soul. Perseverance is rooted in the compassion we have for those whom our goal will benefit, even if that goal seems only to benefit ourselves. Perseverance is, perhaps, impossible without Vision. The great enemy of perseverance is the idleness that comes when one seeks a life free of pain and conflict. We must shoulder our burdens and move forward seeking our proper place and executing our duties so as to benefit the community and honor our Gods and Ancestors

Hospitality: Hospitality is the generosity we must extend to those with whom we share the same moments whether kinsman or stranger. It is, of course, a consideration of what is owed a guest by a host and a host by the guest, but it is, also, a recognition that we carry nothing with us to the grave and leave behind a world impacted by our passage for better or worse. Hospitality, in its fullness requires that we consider our community entire and the well-being of future generations. In our days, we encounter those who can be said to possess the world and its delight’s less than we do. Whether it is a homeless person, a child, or someone else whose circumstances deprive them of full participation in the tribe’s affairs, hospitality requires us to recognize that in very real ways, that person is our guest in that moment.  By stepping forward and taking our place on the wall, we assume responsibility for the lives and well-being of others. What greater generosity is there than that we share our strengths and spend our lives in pursuit of the well-being of all? Give your time, your wealth, your energy to those people whose need hampers their development or the advancement of us all. Hospitality, generosity, largesse requires courage. The coward fears that he will not have the strength to feed himself again if he shares his meal with the hungry. When we exercise largess and keep an open table, we remind the world through our example that we have the strength and confidence to make our way into the future. Hospitality is a manifestation of piety as we recognize that we are not alone and that it is our place to feed and clothe our people. It requires the wisdom to discern what is needed by ourselves and others. It is not hospitality to offer an alcoholic a drink no matter how prettily he begs. And the simplicity of our own needs should be recognized so as to free up resources that we can share with those whose grasp is insufficient for their own modest needs. In this way, practicing moderation increases our capacity to practice hospitality. But hospitality is not limited to physical needs. The emotional needs of prisoners, children, and the entire community must also be addressed. We must, by our very presence and our words and deeds, convey to our community that they are safe and valued and supported.

Moderation: Moderation is the ability to perceive our own needs and to live according to those needs rather than our whims and desires. This is not to suggest that we must all adopt some ascetic existence bordering on starvation and devoid of joy. One of our genuine needs is recreation and laughter and occasional EXCESS! Just as moderation requires that we curb certain appetites such as junk food or harmful, immoral behavior, we must also cultivate certain appetites. But we must cultivate the wisdom to discern when our mere whims (as opposed to our legitimate desires) impede our progress and our ability to live meaningful lives in service to the community, our Gods and our ancestors. Greed and gluttony are the vices of cowards. Greed and gluttony are possibly the two greatest vices threatening the survival of humanity. In our practice, moderation makes it possible to exercise a greater generosity.

Fertility: Fertility is the capacity to create and increase. The inspiration to create is not enough. One must take that breath and proceed with action turning that inspiration into a work that will outlast us as it touches others. We all leave a mark as we pass through the world. Fertility is the virtue we must cultivate if we want that mark to be a positive increase in the well-being of our community. As we undergo the studies and training that make us, we must also find a means whereby we can pass on our learning to the next generation and to those who stand beside us. It is just as important that we pass on what we have learned and what we have become through our works as it to strive to become more and find a greater ability to serve. If we do not find a means to pass those things on, then they die with us and their benefit ends where it could have flourished and grown forever. Things do not stay constant. Everything changes and nothing abides. In a world marred by greed and insufficiency, our ability to create and increase determines whether the future is dominated by these flaws or whether our ideals and visions continue to push back the darkness that threatens us. It requires wisdom to discern what to create and when. It takes courage to create that which the masses will not yet understand. It takes integrity and perseverance to stand beside what one has created. The sharing of these creations is possibly our greatest act of hospitality.

Advertisements

The Blood-stained Banner

Posted: June 24, 2015 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

So…let’s talk about that rebel flag I got hanging on my wall. Let’s discuss why its flying on state property in some states and whether I am a HUGE racist for honoring men who died for an imperfect cause.

One of the first things we need to address is the whole bit about whether the war was about slavery or state’s rights. I’m tired of this one. Absolutely it was about state’s rights…but, in particular…the right of a state to allow slavery. In every state that seceeded, slave owners were a minority. But in every state that seceeded, the legislation passed for secession addressed the fact that slavery WAS the cause they were leaving over.

But do any of you think all them northern white boys were abolitionists? They risked their lives glad for a chance to rid the world of evil? If so, why was slavery allowed to continue throughout the war in Kentucky (Dec 18, 1865), Maryland (Nov 1, 1864)and Delaware (Dec 18, 1865) even AFTER the Great Emancipator did his proclamation bit (Jan 1st, 1863)? In fact, slavery was still legal in Kentucky and Delaware eight months AFTER the war ended with a Northern victory.

If slavery was why the South seceeded, these facts show it was certainly not the cause over which a Republican North invaded.

Could this war…like most wars…have been about much simpler economics from the aggressor’s point of view?

Republicans like to trot out the fact that their party was the one that freed the slaves. But that party was as corrupt then as it is now and one aspect of history that has not changed is Republican willingness to exchange blood for gold.

One of the dirty little secrets to the war’s origins is just how little the average northerner cared about secession and how willing many were to let the Confederacy go its own way. The nation’s first draft would be held during this war because not enough poor people showed up to fight for the Union without the gentle prodding of bayonets.

It wasn’t until March 30, 1861 (two weeks before Sumter), that the NEW YORK TIMES called for measures to be taken to bring the south back under control, specifically calling for the enforcement of “revenue laws.”

The reasoning was simple, every industrial power supports tariffs to protect the profits of those selling goods manufactured within their borders. Agricultural powers, on the other hand, do not want tariffs since it is necessary to import most manufactured goods and tariffs serve only to drive up those prices.

The NYT recognized, and made the public aware, that New York’s position as a port city and its economic influence on the world was jeopardized. If the US had tariffs and the CS did not, why would any exporter go to New York and lose money when he could dock at New Orleans and keep his profits intact?

This was the motivation of Republicans in 1861 as they invaded the South.

Then…the war to preserve the Union ended. Those states that had left the Union and were now occupied by the US military sent their congressmen and senators back to Washington.

After all, had not the purpose of the war been to preserve the Union? After being brought back into the fold at the point of a bayonet, the seceeding states were now all kicked out of the union and told they had to petition again for admittance.

Here is where the flags come in:

When those state legislatures met, they crafted new mottoes, nominated new state insects, and designed new state flags. Only one state, my home, MISSISSIPPI, included the Confederate Flag as part of its heraldry. That state refused to repent of the virtues of the warriors who fought for their state, even as they admitted the cause of slavery was unjust.

Alabama adopted the battle flag of a specific state cavalry regiment as its state flag. Also honoring its warriors, though it could no longer support their cause.

BUT Georgia added the Confederate flag to its state flag in 1956 as a protest against integration. There can be no argument that THIS usage of the flag was profane and intended as racist. That sacred banner was defiled as it was brought out to honor the causes of racism and not the deeds of the honorable men who had fought under it.

Like the Mississippi State legislature in 1894, I hang a Confederate flag in the corner of my room to honor the men whose patriotism and love of a sacred homeland led them to sacrifice and heroism. That their cause was imperfect, that their love of home could be cast as a sanction to racial slavery, does not lessen those men in my eyes anymore than recognition of the Union support of slavery in non-seceeding slave states taints the heroism of men who fought with honor against the Confederacy.

No matter what flag you fly over a state capital, that flag is stained with racial slavery.That terrible error is no reason to decry the United States and no reason to condemn the Confederacy. Let us not be the hypocrites who would curse one set of heroes in order to falsely increase the nobility of another.

I salute the Confederate Flag with affection, reverence and undying remembrance.

We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.

C. S. Lewis THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The Wars of Our Fathers

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

I grew up surrounded by Veterans. Our grandfathers and neighbors had fought in WW2 and our fathers and uncles had served in Vietnam and Korea. Some where in the fishing and deer hunting, these men taught us that life is sacred and to be cherished. That Duty is part of that. That sometimes Duty requires you to violate the sacred and kill other men. But that is the nature of Duty and Life is always sacred.

These men came home from their wars and built the world around us. I had never heard of PTSD but my Grandmother’s brother never talked about his war. I was cautioned not to ask. I was told he “saw some things.” He worked and raised his family and hunted and fished and did his Duty and knew life was sacred.

I am still surrounded by Veterans.

They speak constantly of their PTSD and our numbers among the homeless and outcast are greater than for any other segment of society. They kill themselves. My unit has lost more soldiers to suicide than we did to enemy action.

And when not complaining about PTSD, I hear people counseling further violence and calling for the death of people who really just need a good talking to or maybe an ass beating.

My Grandmother’s brother saw the truth of rounding people up and exterminating them because of the danger they represented. And I don’t think he ever found a way to explain any of what he saw.  Two generations later, it is easy to refuse the call of Duty and easy to suggest that hate is an answer.

Kalev_Bonecruncher

This is the Code of Chivalry as observed in House Hammered Raven.

Honor: Honor First.

You won’t really find it in a dictionary anymore. Its gets discussed by college sophomores reading THE ILIAD for the first time, then it gets dropped as being an impossible philosophical construct. “Is it honorable to steal bread to feed a starving child?” There are a hundred catchy, pretty phrases and no explanation.

Honor is the idea that some ideas and values are so important that we would choose extinction rather than betray those values. Perhaps the value itself is unimportant and what is vital is that we hold it passionately. For one man, honor might demand that he steal before he lets an innocent suffer. For another, honor might demand that he let innocents die before he steals.

Rather than simply bearing witness, Honor is that impulse that demands we act when we see what is Right.  And Honor is the impulse to stand silent as a witness when that is what Right requires.

Prowess: Train constantly. Your strength and your prowess are all that stands between the Right and the Adversary.

Without the virtue of prowess, all other virtues are irrelevant. If a man is unable to strike down an enemy, then it is not mercy that stays his hand but simple weakness. Prowess is the virtue that provides a knight with the means to change the world to suit his own desires.

Without prowess, a man’s desires are meaningless as he cannot act on those desires. Your desire to feed the poor, clothe the naked, establish schools and courts will count for nothing if it is not matched by an ability to stay the hand of those who intend to remove those things.

Honesty: Always speak the truth.

I’ve been told this tenet can be a cruel one that defies mercy. I see that point, but I disagree. There are often truths that are unpleasant to speak, but when you hold your silence, it is not for their sake but for your own. There are truths that cause suffering, when you speak that truth, you must be prepared to stand and share that suffering.

To lie doesn’t avoid an unpleasant truth, it merely delays its uncovering. Perhaps, when it is uncovered, the hearer will be in company less comforting than your own.

Courage: We cannot let fear make decisions for us.

This is not the same as embracing foolhardiness and risk for its own sake. We do not court danger but we cannot let fear move us to act in ways that do not further the cause of Right and Good. We hold our values and our honor so closely that, when the time comes to give our lives in defense of our values and in pursuit of the Good, it will seem as though our lives meant nothing to us.

Mercy: Defend the weak. Protect the innocent.

Just as we prevent the suffering of others through our pursuit of the right, we seek to inflict no more suffering on the wrong-doer than necessary. This is one reason why prowess is the foundation of chivalry and why chivalry can only be pursued by warriors.

Mercy takes many forms, but it is never the simple over looking of errors and mis-deeds.  We confront and defeat the weakness and ignorance of men, but we do not always need to defeat the man himself.

Humility: Praise the worthy deeds of others as you seek to emulate their virtues, but do not boast of your own.

If you are spending your time in the proper company, there will always be others to speak of more highly than yourself, and there will always be others speaking highly of you as they learn the code through watching your actions.

When we boast during sumbel, remember that those supporting you will be affected by your aspirations. Always push the limits of what you can do, but remember that if you push too hard and fail, your burdens fall to another.

Generosity: Gluttony and greed are marks of cowardice.

By taking up arms and taking our place on the wall, we assume responsibility for the lives and well-being of others. What greater generosity is there than that we share our strengths and spend our lives in pursuit of the well-being of all? Give your time, your wealth, your energy to those people whose need hampers their development or the advancement of us all.

The coward fears that he will not have the strength to feed himself again if he shares his meal with the hungry. When we exercise largess and keep an open table, we remind the world through our example that we have the strength and confidence to make our way into the future.

Justice: Seek justice for others without thought of your own gain.

What is good and right is always under assault by weak and ignorant men. Through our words and deeds, we seek to temper the harm done by those who act against the Right. We seek to set two examples. Of course we hope through our actions to inspire others to seek the Right, but we must also conduct ourselves in such a fashion that such men know that acting against the Right in our presence will be met with opposition.

If there are those who imagine that they can act in defiance of what is Good and Right in your presence, then you should reflect on how you have failed.

But justice is a terrifying thing when we truly examine our own lives so we must temper that pursuit of justice with mercy.

Honor: Honor first.

This is the Code of Chivalry as observed in House Hammered Raven.