Saturday, January 1, 2011

Virtue Ethics, It's Something You Do

A year into my graduate studies at the University of Dayton I found myself coming face to face with the reality that it was quite possible I was going to my fail my Ethics and Scripture course because I could not understand Aristotle's Virtue Ethics to save my life. Being a graduate assistant I was technically at risk of losing my assistantship in Campus Ministry, my director quickly settled my nerves by sharing with me that there was a lot more that went into the decision of taking away an assistantship.

With my nerves taken care of it was time to face virtue ethics, sink or swim, I had to try. I began meeting weekly with my professor, if there was an award for coming up with the most creative analogies for ethics my professor would have most definitely received it! In the end he finally found a way of breaking through my inability to grasp it, and surprisingly in the end not only did I pass, but I did so with an A-.

They say that Patience is a virtue. It took me a long time to understand the basics of virtues let alone attain them, and so I can sit here and honestly share with you that patience is something I have to work on for what I predict will be a long time.

I recently had an argument with an elderly relative, an argument born out of frustration on both sides. As we grow older we naturally become more and more forgetful, but sometimes it's more than forgetfulness, sometimes we call it dementia, sometimes we call it Alzheimer's, sometimes we just aren't sure if it's anything at all. If I'm completely honest with myself I would have to admit that I could use a lot more patience in this relationship. But getting there is a lot more challenging than this reflection. It makes me think of virtue ethics. I have to practice it in order to attain it, it won't be a gift given to me in a single instant, it won't be something I magically just have, it will be something for which I must work--and maybe this relationship is the place to start.

And so I go back to virtue ethics, it's not something you get, it's something you do!

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