The Virtue Series

T H E    V I R T U E    S E R I E S

 

167   VIRTUE 1:  FAITH                  *****

A good man’s
Good Book
Collects no dust
upon its shelf –
There’s this need to believe
in something
That’s much bigger
than oneself.

It’s blazing trails
beyond the bend,
Once-fallow furrows
growing green…
Paul in Hebrews
called it
The evidence
of things unseen.

It’s a link
to peace eternal,
To what’s right
our trust is wired…
Brotherhood
and a God who’s good –
No support
from reason required.

 

 

 

168   VIRTUE 2:  PRUDENCE              *****

Know when to pick a side
and when to straddle the fence.
Show your practical wisdom
and use your common sense.
Weigh the valid views
of all the diverse factions.
Always prejudge the likely
results of your actions.

Know when to become a friend
and when to remain a stranger.
Be circumspect where there’s risk,
on the alert where there’s danger.
Distinguish life’s true loves
from its infatuations.
Choose a workable plan
in pressure situations.

Know when to stand up strong
and when to take a seat.
May your conduct be self-disciplined,
may your decisions be discreet.
Tossing caution to the wind?
Your soul would think it treason!
So carefully manage your affairs
and govern yourself through reason.

 

 

169   VIRTUE 3:  JUSTICE

It’s more than an antidote
for societal crime,
More than lawbreakers in jail,
doing their time.
There are guidelines for living
that righteous men use,
There’s a personal justice
the virtuous choose.

It’s honesty and fairness
no matter what has occurred.
It’s keeping your promises,
being true to your word.
It’s freedom from bias
and partisan thought.
It’s obeying the law
though you’d never be caught.

In individual dealings
make equity your goal;
This determines and confirms
what’s right in your soul.
You’ve found a perfect antidote
for personal crime –
When justice jails the self,
Gladly serve the time.

 

 

170   VIRTUE 4: FORTITUDE

He hates that go-nowhere job –
It’s demeaning and depressing.
Still he brings home the bacon,
His disdain he’s suppressing.

Peer pressure supreme –
The party everyone attends!
Homeward-bound teen risks it all –
She’s disappointing her friends.

A single parent fears poverty –
Little house, littered street –
But raises four good kids
While keeping shoes on their feet.

The known prognosis is poor –
The pitiful looks around town.
Facing death in the mirror,
Somehow staring it down!

Fortitude’s the downtrodden
Who find reason to hope,
With the loss of a loved one
Comes learning to cope.

Fortitude’s an injured athlete
Who plays on for the prize,
We’ve seen natural disasters
From which heroes arise.

Fortitude is true grit
Despite each misgiving
As we confront and endure
The many trials of living.

 

 

171  VIRTUE 5:  TEMPERANCE

Where unruly passions
/  stir up the nights,
There’s hardly harm in indulging
/  those appetites.
A little hanky-panky’s not
/  so terribly wrong.
Life’s a celebration
/   of wine, women and song.

/                 No.
Abstinence and sobriety
/   are underrated;
The need for temperance
/   can’t be overstated.
/                  So,

Over base feelings and actions
/   exert some control.
Restraint and self-discipline
/   are boon for the soul.
Where moderation becomes habit
/   you achieve success –
To be virtuous is to resist
/   the lure of excess.

 

 

172   VIRTUE 6:  HOPE

Hope lies awake at night,
Drifting through a darkened room.
Hope sails to isles of respite
Beyond current seas of gloom.

Wherever access seems denied,
Hope knocks down the doors.
Hope envisions that someday
When what you want becomes yours.

To make nothing into something –
On this challenge hope thrives!
Hope fills the many voids
In our unfulfilled lives.

Hope’s the odds for success
When you give yourself a chance.
Hope lifts your expectations
Because it plans in advance.

Hope’s no castle in the air,
Though often so it will seem.
No, hope is the validation
Of the unwavering dream.

 

 

173   VIRTUE 7:  CHARITY

Much of humanity suffers…
Will you do what you can?
Do you feel benevolence
For your fellow man?

Amid the homeless misfortune
Find one stranger a bed.
While many still hunger,
Some child can be fed.

With understanding affection
There are needs you can fill.
Show lenity in  judgment,
Practice random goodwill.

All close friends of mankind
Earn eternal reward.
God adds His own blessing
Where your mercy’s outpoured.

The Bible says love
Covers a multitude of sins,
So some give, some receive –
And everyone wins.
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174   VIRTUE 8:  HUMILITY

We justify ourselves,
+  teach our kids to be proud.
Never put yourself down,
+  modesty’s not allowed…
Staring God in the face,
+  who’ll be first to blink?
See, we’ve got it all wrong;
+  it’s time to rethink:

Credit God or others
+  where you’ve seen success.
Don’t claim a virtue
+  you hardly possess.
Of yourself be not proud
+  nor think too much;
Recognize your faults
+  and treat them as such.

Those who honor themselves
+  are of limited worth.
Blessed are the meek –
+  they’ll inherit the earth.
Lowly spirits contrite
+  know of pride and the fall;
Humble servants of man
+  will be greatest of all.
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175   VIRTUE 9:  COMPASSION

Empathize with the hurting;
Make sad acquaintance good friend.
Lend a hand or show mercy –
Love’s the message you send.

Call on the sick, the suffering –
All whose lives are off-track.
If someone wanders too far,
Help him find his way back.

Be it sudden misfortune
Or old burdens to bear,
Lifelong buddy or stranger –
There are sorrows to share.

Sympathize with their anguish
As worries are confessed.
Seek avenues of relief
For the deeply distressed.

With low neighbors in need
Concern’s back in fashion.
Active support for the troubled –
We call it compassion.
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176  VIRTUE 10:  FORGIVENESS

This bit of character is critical,
Lest there be doubt about it:
No relationship has ever
Succeeded without it.

Be willing to pardon the pal
^  who’s done something to hurt you.
Take no umbrage at faults
^  lest the friendship desert you…

Nor harbor anger or resentment
^  when a marriage is at stake;
Holding a grudge against a spouse
^  is a defining mistake.

If colleagues err at the office,
^  let no vengeance be taken;
The whole workplace will suffer
^  should higher good be forsaken.

Learn to practice this virtue –
Life returns more when you do,
As God’s forgiving spirit
Finds its way back to you.

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177      VIRTUE 11:  CHASTITY

.     (Whoa!  Intercourse is condemned?
.      Is it all right if we kiss?
.      You say his topic is what?
.      Is he serious about this?
.      I don’t read him often,
.      But here’s one I won’t miss!)

.      Practitioners of safe sex
.      Claim our teenagers will explore.
.      Proponents of ‘True love waits’
.      Offer warnings we ignore.

.      Blame mismanagement of behavior –
.      Virginities and lives have been lost.
.      Moral modesty’s mocked.
.      Too many lines have been crossed.

.      Some breach personal integrity –
.      Do these consenting adults care?
.      So, one of them is married;
.      It’s no one else’s affair!

.      Others broach decency, fidelity –
.      One’s character must be faced.
.      Praise purity in motive;
.      Honor conduct that’s chaste.

.     (That’s it?  What’s acceptable here,
.     And what if anything to forbid?
.     I’m afraid I missed the point!
.     Is there some message he hid?
.     The man didn’t say what he thinks…
.     Or maybe he did!)

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178   VIRTUE 12:  CHIVALRY

About knights in shining armor
In history’s pages we have read,
But ideals for which they stood
Are not necessarily dead:

We face daily dangers and opposition –
Moral strength is needed here.
One’s honor must be earned;
Courage defies its moral fear.

Modern women command respect;
Grand attention’s an art these days.
Though most damsels aren’t distressed,
The gallant still merit praise.

Beyond condescending meanness
The magnanimous seek to go –
Befriending the weak and needy,
Regarding the vanquished foe.

Once the norm was noble character
And courtesy defined the knight.
Well-mannered, fair, and considerate –
They stood for what is right!
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179   VIRTUE 13:  RESPECT

Value their worth,
Credit where due –
Up on the pedestal they go!
Gladly defer,
Follow their lead –
Respect is a virtue and so:

For your parents…
‘Twas never easy growing up,
But to none will yo owe any more.
“Honor thy father and thy mother” –
I’ve heard that somewhere before!

For yourself…
Just what’s missing in the man
Who does drugs or heavily drinks,
Or abuses his temple in any way?
How little of himself he thinks!

For your mate…
Such peevishness in women scorned
By bitter husbands betrayed –
With newfound regard for each other,
Domestic comebacks are made!

For your elders…
A culture that worships its youth
Suffers misplaced veneration.
Direct your esteem henceforth
To a proud and wise generation.

Your church and school,
Family and friends,
Even rivals who rise from a fall…
A nation free,
Nature’s domain,
May respect be accorded to all!

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180   VIRTUE 14:  HONESTY

A lack of it brought scoldings
/  that interrupted your youth,
But now there’s more to it
/  than just telling the truth.

Deal fairly with each person
/  you meet down the road.
Develop rules of behavior,
/  then stick to your code.
Temptations to cheat or defraud
/  must soon pass you by;
Integrity is morality
/  when there’s pressure to lie!
Be steadfast and straightforward,
/  dependable and sincere –
Your trustworthiness to friends
/  will then become clear.

Such is mature honesty,
/  beyond the scope of your youth –
Call it loyalty to pursuit
/  of interpersonal truth.

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181   VIRTUE 15:  PATIENCE

Sometimes it wears thin,
This patience of a saint…
There’ll be annoyance, perhaps,
But stifle the complaint.
Try to calmly endure,
Tolerate over time,
With perseverance supreme
And understanding sublime.

But if patience is a virtue,
Who ever has enough?
People can be difficult,
And times can be tough.
Recall Hebrews 12:1
Where Scriptures implore us:
“Run with patience the race
That is set before us.”
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182   VIRTUE 16:  LOYALTY

A friend who’s a friend
/ in spite of your flaws?
A zealot who’s devoted
/ to the special cause?
The soldier who risks life
/ fighting on through his fears?
An employee who toes
/ the company line for years?
Two lovers who make each other
/ their real life story?
An athlete who puts the team
/ before personal glory?
Our Lord who sustains us
/ when our plans hit a snag?
Americans who pledge allegiance
/ to their flag?
Or can canines exemplify it
/ a bit better and faster?
Watch the old dog who runs out
/ to greet his master!
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183   VIRTUE 17:  RESPONSIBILITY


Those teens who so long
/  to be declared 

/    autonomous –
Do they know
/  ‘mature’ and ‘responsible’
/    are practically synonymous?
No human beings
/  can be considered
/    fully grown
Till they earn chances
/  to make choices
/    on their own.
All young people
/  give adulthood
/    its first real fling
When loved ones
/  can trust them
/    to do the right thing.
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184   VIRTUE 18:  CITIZENSHIP 

Easy come the rights and privileges,                                                                                                         But duties and obligations are hard…
For some it’s community service,  

For others a stint in the guard!                                                                                                      

Be it national, state or local,
It’s good to keep up with the news.
By staying informed and voting
We pay civic membership dues!

Seek needed education or training;
Each one on his own must stand…
Honoring society’s customs,
Obeying the laws of the land.

Uphold family and church and school –
These institutions are worth the fight.
Speak out against the wrong you see
And act when you know you’re right!

It’s giving your blood, it’s jury duty,
Or sitting on a council or board.
Let’s pledge the flag, sing the anthem,
Maybe trade in the Honda for Ford!

There’s no harm in differing beliefs
If no one’s adversely affected.
A sense of community develops
When the rights of all are respected.
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185     VIRTUE 19:  SERENITY

Your sublime
/  peace of mind
/     in troubled times
/        offers stability –
Life’s cacophony
/  never quite reaches
/     inner sanctums
/        of tranquillity.

Accept things
/  you cannot change;
/     will freedom
/        from flustering strife.
When daily repose
/  is practiced,
/     you’re undaunted
/        by stresses in life.

In unaffected
/  spiritual calm
/     a quiet dignity’s
/        expressed.
In encountering
/  your placid nature
/     the ruffled around you
/        are blessed.
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186     VIRTUE 20:  LOVE              *****

An ideal acquired
/  through living,
Born more of will
/  than of whim…
It’s accepting God’s grace
/  toward us
While sharing
/  our reverence
/     for Him.

But more it’s a
/  genuine aura,
A gentle
/  and generous kind…
By what is given
/  of oneself
The capacity
/  for love
/     is defined.

Christ would say
/  it’s the ultimate virtue;
This writer has saved it
/  for last…
An eternal
/  and worthy legacy
When our days
/  on this planet
/     have passed.

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