Virtues, Values, and the Price of Our Decisions

By Jay McCall   12-13-2022

On my way home the other day, I suddenly had a craving for a Drumstick ice cream cone. That chocolate and nut covered ice cream with the caramel in the center sounded absolutely delicious. I stopped at a store to see if they had single cones in their freezer. They did, but were expensive! To me, the price far exceeded the value of the Drumstick, so I left without a cone.

As I drove away, I began to think of what we value, the cost of living by those values, and how value and cost figure into our decisions and actions.

The idea of values in our society can often be vague and highly subjective, but the church has explored this topic for centuries through the lens of virtues. In fact, we might even describe virtues as Super Values. Viewing virtues as values can more readily inspire secular understanding and the importance of ancient virtues in our lives for peace, happiness and the prosperity of humanity.

According to church tradition, there are seven Heavenly Virtues: Humility, Kindness, Temperance, Chastity, Patience, Charity, and Diligence. These virtues are intended to help us avoid the seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Sloth. Adhering to the virtues can help us decide not to indulge in actions harmful to ourselves and humanity.

There are different lists of virtues, of course. A list of four, a list of ten, or another list of seven can all be found with a simple internet search. They all express slightly different virtues, but the common thread is simply that virtues improve our lives, our wellbeing, our relationships with our neighbors, our communities, our nations, humanity and closeness to God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

Later, after trying to avoid explaining to a police officer how my philosophical musings prompted by ice cream led to missing a stop sign (“I don’t remember seeing the sign, Officer.”), I came to this conclusion: the price of godly actions is invaluable for others and ourselves. Similarly, our virtue allows us to realize how high the price of harmful and hateful actions toward each other truly is. As Christians, we need to be mindful of what we decide to purchase.  After all, our Christian purpose is brotherly love. As Jesus said, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:31).

Jay McCall is a lifelong community volunteer. He serves as a Minister of the Word at SEAS Catholic parish. He has been a member of the Knights of Columbus and Rotary Foundation for over 50 years. Jay is co-chair of the Tucson Alliance of Braver Angels, whose mission is to depolarize discourse in the United States. He is founder of Legacy Foundation, ”Your Life is your Legacy!” and LifeDonor USA Foundation honoring the lives of a son and daughter who exemplified compassion, courage and civility.