On the first of December of 2005, I wrote an article called My Aloha Virtue List. It held brief descriptions of how I defined hope, freedom, humor, prayer, vitality, wonder, trust, faith, grace, gratitude, joy and peace as virtues, and there was no doubt that it was strongly influenced by the winter holiday season, and by my faith.
The article quickly became the most frequently visited posting I had ever published online to date, and this page as restatement has remained a gift of NĀNĀ I KE KUMU for me, for looking to my source.
I now have my Twelve Aloha Virtues traced for each November, though I find I’ll refer to it more often, and for different reasons. November is when that feeling of shift gets particularly strong for me, as the month of Thanksgiving and MAHALO it is. I like savoring those months which lead to January 1st of a new year, and I love remembering how perfect the seasonal mood of December seemed for the list at the time. They shine so brightly, with a positive enthusiasm of all that is good about the season, and good about us as the people who celebrate it, often with a patience and kindness that can elude us in other seasons. These twelve virtues have become any-month-relevant, yet they still evoke this “Twelve Days of Christmas” feeling in a Managing with Aloha Values meets Virtues tradition.
This tradition is a source of incredible energy for me, infused with positive expectancy. I am completely willing to have these virtues influence me, so willing, I jump in kukupa‘u — with great enthusiasm.
Virtue is not a word we hear all that much; it’s not a thought that crops up in the regularity and routine of our days. Well, I propose that we revive virtuous living as a wonderful new habit to keep within our practice of ALOHA. You may find that its winter warming appeals to you too, that it becomes a list to make and check off twice. The holiday season frames it wonderfully, and after the year I can imagine we’ve shared, you deserve this. We all do.
However I hope you will bookmark this page, finding you can NĀNĀ I KE KUMU with it more often, just as I do.
What is Virtue?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
“Virtue is the habitual, well-established, readiness or disposition of man’s powers directing them to some goodness of act. Virtue is the moral excellence of a man or a woman … as applied to humans, a virtue is a good character trait.”
How can you not like that, and want more of it?
Your character emerges from the deep inner weavings of your values, your spirit, and that emotional well-being which is quite instinctual for you: It is flushed out and propelled toward others on the vibrations of your good intentions. Indeed, the virtues you choose to practice were in fact chosen by your “moral excellence.”
Once he saw a youth blushing, and addressed him,
“Courage, my boy; that is the complexion of virtue.”
~ Laertius Diogenes
Diogenes encourages courage. Why? When? Morality can be a tough thing to get our arms around at times, for we are living in an age where we tend to be politically correct and play it safe. We can get reticent when talking about virtue and morality unless we are in the comfortable arms of our family and closest friends, or taking the leap in teaching our own children. So while you will see that I cannot separate my own faith from my list, my effort in this writing, is to package virtue for us a bit in some ready-for-right-now goodness we can all share more openly.
You can visit the Wikipedia entry on Virtue if you’d like more background on the four classic Western or Islamic “cardinal” virtues and so on. I present to you my Twelve Aloha Virtues, admittedly taken with full liberty present in my wanting, my faith, and my leap of faith in you even if I can’t say I know you. This is the “moral excellence” I know is undeniably me, and I shall focus on building it ever-stronger within my own character.
Twelve Aloha Virtues
Similar to our 19 Values of Aloha, these build on each other, primarily in the way I describe them: They fell into this order back in 2005 of their own volition, and they have remained this way. They are highly personal, and without apology. There is some overlap with our Managing with Aloha Values, and I didn’t care about that, fully embracing that these concepts are gifts which could be both. I have resisted my normal writer’s urge to edit them relentlessly (or at all) for I have found that preserving their memory has inherent worth.
Hope is such a beautiful thing. It is an attitude about the best of possibility becoming real. Hope looks at all the good that is true about the present and assumes it will ho‘omau, be perpetuated into our future — and then some.
Freedom is something we take for granted much too much. Think of all the ways you are unshackled and free to make your choices, and it becomes clear that most of us know no other way to live. Within virtue, we set our hearts free.
Speaking of hearts, this comes from Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Laughter fills the holidays, and no one can tell me our ability to laugh at ourselves is not character-building and virtuous.
There is so much comfort in the thought that Someone bigger than ourselves may be listening, and may care. There is comfort knowing we always have Someone to talk to about anything and everything. I do not shy from admitting I can use those comforts.
There is a fire that burns within us during the holidays. Give in and let it burn up any stress, replacing it with enthusiastic and eager energy. Zip. Zeal. Zest. All vitally and dynamically virtuous.
To have an inner capacity that can always make room for awe and wonder is such a blessing. To return to child-like innocence and acceptance, to be rendered speechless, and have it feel good and right, never helpless. To not have all the answers but feel it is perfectly fine not to, to just have wonder.
We can wonder because we can trust. People tend to be kind of needy, and that’s okay. When we need others we learn to trust and be trustworthy in our relationship building. We learn to love more. We learn to have faith in each other. We cultivate magnetic attractions to good intention.
I have some trouble with the concept of fate, but I do believe in having faith as something that empowers us to create our own destiny. There is faith in the divine and the spiritual, faith in others and in self, faith that good will always defeat evil — I choose to believe in every variety and aspect of it.
This is one of my favorite words, and oddly, because I can’t define it well. However I don’t need to, because its goodness just is. I can only wish I feel it more, experience it more, and give it more. I once heard grace called “unmerited favor” and I love that. I want to be gracious, always.
There may be no mightier force in our lives than learning to live in thankfulness for all we are and all we have been given. An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of aloha; The breath of life within you is meant to be shared in appreciation, thankfulness, and gratitude.
Happiness with more than contentment. Happiness with bliss and euphoria. Silliness without self-consciousness. The holidays are so perfect for splashes of joy in color, in song, in tinsel and texture, even in the scents that fill the air. But most of all, in people’s faces.
If we sow the seeds of virtue, we cultivate fertile ground for peace. If we seek to understand and not condemn, to take the high road versus get even, we uncover how alike we are much more than we are different. We all want peace.
All are nouns begging our action in making them verbs.
I suppose it’s possible to have some debate about the semantics of these. Some may think of them as values, others as principles. Others may be uncomfortable with their association with my faith, and if so, I challenge them: Live your ALOHA sourced from the virtues, values, and faith of your own choosing.
Each time I read over this list, I welcome their association with Virtue, for I’ll take the self-imposed quest for more “moral excellence” willingly; I want to make my way toward that “goodness of act.” Doing so is part of managing Life with Aloha.
With my aloha,
~ Rosa Say
UPDATE: During Christmastide 2014 ~ 2015 we used these Virtues of Aloha in a new project pilot patterned after the 12 Days of Christmas, and you can see those updates here: Project Index: Christmastide.
There is now a Flickr Gallery to collect images for these virtues as well: Submissions via Flickr mail are eagerly welcomed and greatly appreciated!