I've been thinking about virtues this week.
There's been some discussion at the children's school about the value of 'religious education' (RE) during class time. I've also been doing some reading about inclusive belief systems.
Seems to me that the bottom line here is that most people want their children to learn 'good values' - be that in the context of a belief system (IE religion), or as a more humanistic set of virtues.
When it comes to crisis, it doesn't seem to matter which set of spiritual beliefs, if any, that a person holds on to - what counts is the things they value - kindness, transparency, honesty, fairness, justice etc.
There's a whole programme being delivered in schools around the world, based on this (virtues project) and I really like the idea. Now I am not against RE per Se' - how could I be, when some of the work I do is in ministry - but I tire of the concept of my kids learning 'bible stories' ad nauseum, rather than learning about things at a deeper level - and I do believe that even the youngest children have a sense of spirituality and we don't give them enough credit for this.
So, that brings me to this question: what really matters to me? is it a set of rules, a code of conduct, a belief in a particular dogma, or is it in fact, more about feeling a kinship to like minded people who subscribe to similar beliefs and values as me - all the while maintaining a real sense of what it is that I believe and stand by.
I have to be honest and say that my own 'belief structure' - for want of a better expression - does not fit within traditional boundaries. I recently completed an absolutely fascinating on-line questionnaire at www.belief.net (BeliefOMatic) which sounds lighthearted but was actually a really challenging and revealing exercise. I did it with a group and it really brought around some great discussion.
Above all, I value and honour.....truth and honesty - always in love not judgement!, kindness and humility, fairness and ownership, and social responsibility. I think that these things do fit into the 'spiritual' category even though they sound more like virtues. Being aware of ones actions and reactions means (or should mean) we can become more real, more authentic, more honest.
I fail miserably, a lot of the time, (i'm not nearly as virtuous as I appear to be:))...in fact I don't even want to call it failing - maybe it would be better to say it's all part of the succeeding!!!. One day at a time. (just as well really!). Living each moment fully but always with one eye on the future and watching to see where this path is taking me.