Virtue is a great word; a compelling, important and lovely concept. Honestly, it is one of my favorite subjects because, in part, of its duality of simplicity and complexity. Virtue, in short, can be defined as moral excellence. That seems pretty simple. But, in its forms throughout recorded history, virtue has been contemplated, explicated, elucidated and enumerated in ways that warrant a lifetime of consideration. Hence my excitement to find it contemplated here in the pages of Drury Magazine.
Humankind has identified sets of qualities representative of virtue ranging from God or Christlike (holiness and love), to theological (faith, hope and love) or canonical (prudence, temperance, charity), to more human in nature, like the virtues of Bushido (honor, loyalty, courage, respect, integrity) or chivalry (gallantry, courteousness, generosity). Virtue opens the door to consideration of morality, moral relativism, ethics and philosophy— great pillars of the liberal arts. Great minds have debated whether virtue is inherent or learned as part of the human experience. Great thinkers have identified and re-identified virtues needed to lead an individual life of fulfillment and the virtues required for self-governance and civilized society.
From Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions (Contours of Christian Philosophy) Arthur F. Holmes, a professor of philosophy at Wheaton College, wrote: “A virtue is a right inner disposition, and a disposition is a tendency to act in certain ways. Disposition is more basic, lasting and pervasive than the particular motive or intention behind a certain action. It differs from a sudden impulse in being a settled habit of mind, an internalized and often reflective trait. Virtues are general character traits that provide inner sanctions on our particular motives, intentions and outward conduct.”
As educators, we dedicate our lives to teaching others what we hope to be lessons of great value and benefit. What greater notion than “a right inner disposition” could any of us hope to impart as we go about our lives in this chosen field? I am most profoundly reminded of the important work just completed by a group of our dedicated faculty, coaches, students and staff who served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Prevention of Hazing at Drury University. A true exercise in virtue that I pray and believe will serve our university community and other institutions well in the coming years to eliminate any and all forms of hazing from the university experience.
My thanks to everyone who participated and shared a part of themselves in production of this publication, and I hope you will join me in my excitement as we read and enjoy this issue of Drury Magazine.
J. Timothy Cloyd