Have you ever wondered to what extent virtues play in today’s world? It’s not a subject that many of the Earth’s inhabitants explore; yet to some extent, they still dictate our relationships, politics and cultures.

Virtues play a significant role in families and the formation of critical thinking by children. How your child will grow up, the ease with which they fit into friendships, and how they view the world are all ways their lives are affected by the virtues they learn from mom and dad.

Thousands of years ago Socrates wrote: The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear be; all-human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.

If I were to ask you to make a list of virtues, what would you write down? How many do you know? For the fun of it, do it mentally right now, or take a moment to make your own list.

So you won’t drive yourself crazy, here is a list of eighteen essential virtues:

· Love
· Politeness
· Fidelity
· Prudence
· Temperance
· Justice
· Generosity
· Compassion
· Mercy
· Courage
· Gratitude
· Humility
· Simplicity
· Tolerance
· Purity
· Gentleness
· Good Faith
· Humor

To keep this simple, fun and relatively short let’s explore just a few of these virtues. As with most questions about philosophy, you are given a premise with which to think, so let’s make “modern applicability” our premise.

For it’s shear beauty and simplicity, I choose Gratitude as the first virtue to examine. In his new book “A Small Treatise of the Great Virtues” Andre’ Comte-Sponville says of gratitude: “It is the most pleasant of virtues, and the most virtuous of pleasures.”

As for applying it in today’s world, that should be easy, but for some it isn’t. Too many of today’s conveniences are looked upon as normal and taken for granted. Our young are without gratitude for clean water, warm housing, new clothing or the sacrifices of those who have gone before and established this wonderful lifestyle.

Gratitude is pleasurable because of the joy it brings when someone has done something nice for you; they get to enjoy the happiness and gratefulness, which you exhibit when you receive your gift of deed or object. Being grateful naturally brings humbleness to your character illustrating your humility and humanity. A young person who shows gratitude regularly will grow up to have a well-rounded and balanced outlook on life.

Next, let’s examine Fidelity.

I hadn’t realized until I researched for this article how fundamental fidelity is to all virtues. Without fidelity there is no faith…in anything. Without faith there is no hope, no courage, no ideals. There can be evil fidelity and moral fidelity; you get to choose the truth. So, as with all virtues, fidelity is a choice.

But, we must be discriminating in our decisions or we will suffer through or joyfully reap the consequences. The basis for of all this is morality, for it allows the truth to move forward with change.

Fidelity in love is a little different that it is in other realms. Within relationships there are different rules that set them apart. Exclusiveness makes a loving relationship what it is supposed to be…special. But, when either the love or the exclusive nature weakens or disappears entirely fidelity will also. It is in the love, which the couple shares that makes fidelity possible. Merely living together or sleeping together doesn’t bind the exclusiveness, although often one of the parties may feel it does, which ultimately sets them up for disappointment.

I’d like to close by looking at Politeness.

As politeness disappears from society everything else will deteriorate as well. Along with fidelity, politeness is a foundation virtue. Being polite to one another allows virtues to flow easily and naturally. When we aren’t polite, hatred, anger, jealousy, suspiciousness and intolerance become paramount in our attitudes.

Many children today aren’t polite and learn all of the attributes in the previous sentence early on, which will make their lives more difficult and unhappy.

Politeness makes morality possible. We make honorable choices and decisions with right thinking rather than wrong hateful thinking. When we are polite, diplomacy works. When we are polite, friendships work. When we are polite society moves along effortlessly, and benevolence is prevalent. But, if we aren’t polite, our experience is filled with road-rage, drive-by shootings, and date rape.

Politeness gives us joy because we are giving of ourselves…such as: opening a door for someone, helping an elderly person across the street, and simply saying thank you. Giving always makes humans feel good about themselves and others, and makes morality shine. When we take, without regard to the rights or feelings of others, we degrade life and the things once precious to us.

Well, this has been an interesting exercise. I hope you have found some virtues to think about and discuss with your child. I will continue to explore how modern humans can make use of ancient values and virtues, which brought joy to the world, because obviously, we still need them. I hope you continue to ponder about the values you hold dear and how to keep them alive in your life.

In the end, it’s just one man’s opinion…mine.

Author's Bio: 

Keith E. Renninson is a motivational speaker and co-author of the popular parenting tool and illustrated storybook for children, "Zooch the Pooch, My Best Friend". Through the 1990's with much self-examination, academic study, bicycle racing, and mountain climbing, he discovered a renewed zest of life, which included a love of metaphysics, philosophy, humor, and writing and speaking. As Keith says, "Some days you're the pigeon and some days you're the statue...it's all in what you make of it."

You can read more about "Zooch the Pooch" or the new book which Keith has co-authored "101 Great Ways To Improve Your Life" or contact Keith to speak at: http://www.zoochthepooch.com

Keith and his co-author Michael Conrad Kelley speak to teens and adults on "The Seven Simple Steps to a More Fulfilling Life." This course focuses on how to build a successful Life Philosophy that works for each individual.