[Vision2020] The Virtues Come First

Nick Gier ngier at uidaho.edu
Tue Jun 21 09:06:57 PDT 2005

Greetings Visionaries:

Rose and Donavan raise legitimate concerns about whether the City of Moscow 
should be spending its money on the Virtues Project.  They make good 
arguments that limited city funds should be used for more immediate needs.

Some years ago I was at a conference in Seattle and I was sharing the 
podium with a social worker who was working with Seattle drug addicts. Her 
office had sufficient resources for therapy and money to address living 
conditions, but still she found that she was making very little headway 
with her clients.  She discovered that the main problem was that her 
clients had very few skills to overcome the temptations that led to drug 
use.  Sending them to counseling and giving them a better place to live did 
nothing to address this problem.

My paper "Non-Violence as a Civic Virtue" was next, and initially I did not 
see how I was going to make any connections to her paper, but now the link 
was obvious.  Rose and Donavan are focusing on the symptoms of a broken 
society, which we definitely should address, but we also need to attend to 
the reasons why so many people lack the basic skills to lead good lives.

The ancient Greeks, Buddhists, and Confucians realized that the virtues are 
those requisite skills, and if they are not taught early in life, and if 
there are no good role models for the virtues, then your society is 
drifting down that notorious creek without a paddle.

By the way, I want to commend Dan Weaver for his excellent column on 
Virtues and Character (Daily News June 5&6).  He even mentioned Aristotle!

For a draft of my essay "Moscow as a City of Virtues" see 

Yours for a City of Virtues,

Nick Gier

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