Chapter 5: Secondary Virtues: Honest, Humble and Principled

The secondary virtues are defined primarily by their relationship to the primary virtues of love, faith and hope; each of these primary virtues must be complemented in some way, to keep us from becoming unbalanced. 

Virtuous or Principled

Virtuous or principled is the complement to being loving and caring.  Note how, similar to Love, encompassing so many other virtues in itself, this virtue—the virtue of virtue—is.  The name of this virtue is deliberate, to express this important relationship.

Is this virtue—the virtue of virtue—an expression of the virtue wheel itself?  Or is it something different? 

I believe there is a particular character attribute that is one of purity, of being principled, of being upright that I’ve termed virtue.  In being that, it encompasses all the other virtues of the virtue wheel within it.  Being principled is doing the right thing, on every topic.

By its nature it is a very strong characteristic.  Why is this required? As we have noted, to counter the tremendous power of love.  Love is so powerful, and its feelings so rewarding that at times we may be tempted to do things that are not right.  We may be asked by those we love to bend the rules in their favor.

A virtuous person recognizes the danger of doing so.  In spite of our deep love for something, we must have a degree of independence, enabling us to do what is right, what might not be desired or liked, to have a long-term view of things, to have confidence that doing the right is right.  Virtue means strength.  And virtue complements the power of love. 

Books have been written upon the twin towers of interdependence, and independence needed in all relationships. Love and Virtue are embodiments of these towers.

The power of this virtue should not be underestimated. We might go so far as to say if one were only virtuous and loving, they would have perfected the necessary virtues of life. 

Humble or Teachable

The complement to Faith and Confidence is Humility and Teachability.  Faith and confidence provide assurance of the truthfulness of things that cannot be proven.  When we are humble and teachable we recognize that learning is a continuous thing, that faith and confidence are continually refined in the grind with reality. 

Overconfidence, and dogmatism are not virtues.  Humility and teachability guard us against them.  We question, we listen, we look for new insights, we recognize our limitations, both in capability and in knowledge. 

As Faith and Confidence are rooting in the past, because the past is where truth is established, we recognize that humility is necessary as things change, new information becomes available, new capabilities, work towards ours and others’ hopes progress.  Thus humility is on the half of the virtue wheel with hopefulness.

Who among us does not need to learn?  In keeping the need fresh and urgent, humility and teachabiliy are powerful allies.  They are particularly helpful in helping us learn in every situation, and from everyone we encounter—everyone!  The humble know that even small children at times can teach the ancient important lessons, but only if the ancient will listen. 

What great power comes to use through being humble and teachable.

Honest and Realistic

Virtues might begin with hopefulness.  But hopefulness can lead to a fantasy world disconnected from reality.  We might hope things will occur, but ignoring overwhelming evidence to the contrary is not virtuous.  Thus, the complement to hope and optimism is honesty and realism. 

This rooting in the past is why Honesty is a virtue of maturity, on the same half as Confidence which is also rooted in the truth of the past.

We have discussed already that honesty is a battle ground virtue.  In my religion, when members are asked about observing religious commitments, the question most often tentatively answered is if we are honest in our dealings with our fellow man. 

I’m not sure I completely understand why that is. Yet because of its battleground nature, it would be hard to argue it is not one of the most important of all virtues.

Honesty is critical to being a virtuous person.  It is a pillar of strength to those who practice it consistently.  It is a force to be reckoned with by those who do not.

In Summary

Imagine if the only virtues one possessed were being Virtuous, Humble and Honest. What a powerful set of characteristics that would be? Interlocking in truth and uprightness, and balancing the future and the past perfectly.

What a powerful set of virtues these are, in some manner equal in importance and power to the primary virtues.

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