Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Four Cardinal Virtues–Which One Are You?

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. - Albert Schweitzer

Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy. - Sai Baba

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …

Frank knelt in silence in the Cathedral, staring upward at the statue of Jesus on the cross.  The lights of the Cathedral were off and he knew he didn’t have long before the encroaching darkness on the outside forced him to leave the building.

But he found himself unable to leave anyway.

As he knelt, his mind churned as he contemplated the difficulties before him.  “Pray”, people had told him and pray he did, fervently and often, but it seemed to produce no results for him.

“Why has God abandoned me?”, he asked himself as his eyes misted over.

“Why do you think He has abandoned you?”, a deep, gentle voice asked beside him.

He practically jumped out of his skin as the voice broke the sacred silence of the Cathedral.

Looking to his left, he found himself looking into the eyes of a non-descript man who stared intently back at him.

“Why do you think He has abandoned you?”, the man asked him again.

“I’m sorry”, mumbled Frank, “You startled me.  I didn’t hear or see you sit down.  Why did you ask me that question?”

“I didn’t mean to startle you”, replied the mystery figure. “You seem to have something on your mind and I felt that you needed to talk about it.”

Caught unawares by the mystery figure’s easy demeanour, Frank suddenly found himself explaining his dilemma.  The mystery figure sat in silence and absorbed the story, occasionally nodding his head in understanding but saying nothing.

“I may be able to help you”, the mystery man said as Frank finished his story.  “Please come with me.”

He stood up, stepped into the aisle and paused, waiting for Frank to join him.

They walked behind the altar and down a long corridor to a meeting room.  Peering tentatively inside the door, Frank saw four people seated around a table inside.

“Please”, said the mystery man, gesturing for Frank to enter the room as the occupants smiled warmly at him.

Frank and the mystery man stepped inside, with Frank sitting at the head of the table while the mystery man sat down towards the other end.

“Frank has a problem that he needs help with”, said the mystery man.

Frank frowned as he didn't’ recall telling the man his name.  Nonetheless, he explained his story again and the occupants of the room said nothing, allowing him to tell his story in its entirety.

When he finished his story, there was a brief moment of silence.

The individual closest to him, adorned with a well-groomed goatee, leaned forward.  “Thank you for sharing your story, Frank.  I can see why your mind is full regarding this.  What is important for you to realize is that in your deepest struggle, you are never alone and that there are always people around you who want to help.  We in this room will not let you fall.  Always know that all it takes is for you to ask for help or to let someone help you should they notice you in distress.  Do you understand this?”

Frank swallowed hard as Mr. Goatee’s gaze burned into him and he nodded, his mind going numb as he wondered what was going on.

The large, broad-shouldered man sitting across from Mr. Goatee leaned forward and looked Frank in the eye.  “What my colleague says is true”, he said.  “It is also important that you separate that which you imagine from the realities of your situation.  Having done this, you can truly see what is worthy of your mind and what is merely noise, adding fear and confusion to a worried mind.  Remember that basking in fear never removes danger or solves problems and eventually if you are not careful, you will drown in your own fears.  Stand up for what you represent, for who you are and with the gifts that you have been given and do so uncompromisingly and you will find a way that honors the person that you are.  People who do this in the name of service to others are always served in turn.”

Frank nodded quietly as his mind struggled to comprehend what these strangers were telling him.

“It is so hard to keep moving forward”, stammered Frank, “When everything seems to be going against you and no one is listening.”

He paused before continuing.

“Not even God.”

The brunette at the far end of the table spoke softly to Frank.  “I know why you feel this way.  It is at the moment when solutions are at hand that it is most important that you not give up.  You have heard the old adage that most people give up within sight of their goals.  These people fall into traps of self-abuse, whether emotional, physical, spiritual or otherwise, and they condemn themselves to the very failure that they fear.  It is at this moment that you must be strongest in order to persevere through to the success that your potential demands of you.”

Frank could feel emotion overwhelming him and he broke down in tears.  The other occupants of the room said nothing as he composed himself, wiped his eyes and mumbled an apology.

“No apology necessary”, said the fourth stranger, a silver-haired lady.  “Here is what you need to do.”

Frank listened as she explained a plan for his Life and the best way to accomplish it.  He sat in stunned silence as she referenced details in his Life that she could not know and yet she referenced them casually as if she had known Frank his entire Life.

As she finished, Frank said nothing and the mystery man who had escorted him into the room stood up and walked over to Frank. 

Placing a hand on Frank’s shoulder, he turned to the four strangers and addressed them.  “You have presented a lot of information to our friend here and there is much for him to absorb.  If you could headline in a couple of words what you have told him today, how would you do it?”

Mr. Goatee smiled at Frank and said, “Be strong.”

His companion opposite him said, “Fight for what you believe in and for what you are worth.”

The brunette smiled as well and said, “Be gentle with yourself.”

The silver-haired woman smiled at Frank but paused before speaking.  “You have been given the gift of knowledge”, she said, her eyes piercing through him.  “Make sure you apply it.”

“Well said”, said the mystery man.  Shaking Frank’s shoulder, he looked down at Frank.  “Time to leave”, he said as he smiled.

Frank stood up and followed the mystery man out of the room and back down the hall, lost in thought as he walked back into the Cathedral.

As they sat down in the pew where the conversation had started, Frank stared at the mystery man.  He struggled for words before finally asking, “Who were those people?”

The mystery man smiled.  “Ah yes”, he said, “I neglected to introduce them to you.  You may know them by their proper names, Fortitude, Justice, Temperance and Prudence.  Many know them by other names as well.”

“What kinds of names are those?”, Frank said as he frowned.

The mystery man gestured slightly with his head and said “Perhaps you should ask him.”

Frank turned to his right and saw a priest walking towards him. The priest smiled at him as he approached.

“Good afternoon, Father”, said Frank.

“Good afternoon, my son”, replied the elderly priest.  “It is always good to see someone enjoy solitude in our holy sanctuary.”

“Well, I’m not completely alone ….”, replied Frank as he turned to his left but his voice faltered as he realized that the mystery man was no longer with him.

“Is something wrong?”, asked the priest as he noticed Frank’s confusion.

“I’m not sure”, replied Frank, “I just had a meeting with this guy and four other people in a meeting room down the hall and now he seems to have disappeared.”  He frowned as his confusion overwhelmed him.

“Meeting room?”, asked the priest, “We have no meeting rooms here.”

“But that’s impossible”, protested Frank, “I went with him to this meeting room and we had a meeting with four other people that he called Fortitude, Justice, Temperance and Prudence.”

“Indeed”, said the priest, pursing his lips. 

“Tell me more”, the priest said as he sat down beside Frank.

Frank paused and began to speak.

To be continued.

© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved


I was reading about the Four Cardinal Virtues the other day in the 1962 edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal.  The virtues are Fortitude (courage in pain), Justice (objectivity), Temperance (self restraint) and Prudence (wisdom) and it occurred to me that in a world of complexity where people need help, many of us have an opportunity to embody one or more of these virtues in an opportunity to help others.

At different times when we have such opportunities, it is important to realize that while we don’t always embody the same virtue to every person for every situation, we always have an opportunity to embody some virtue in some way.

What virtue have you embodied for someone who needs help today?

What are you waiting for?

Series Origin:

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

1 comment:

  1. To show two extremes about your comment, "“When everything seems to be going against you and no one is listening.”

    There are two stories, only one message, but two different endings. In one story a man tells a group of people to change and another story of a different man saying the same message. The results are striking. One group changed, another didn't. The group that changed was Nineveh and the group that didn't was the world. The first man giving the message was Jonah, the second one was Noah.

    The love for others is no different than the love of God has for Man, we want shout it for the world to hear. But we're not to be tasked with changing the world, only ensuring the message gets to everyone. It is freewill that will determine whether or not a change occurs. Sad to say, but that's the reality.

    Luke 16:29-31 “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ “But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”