Saturday, December 15, 2012
The Four Cardinal Virtues are Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice. They have been fundamental building blocks of civilization since ancient times, were refined with a moral urgency added by St. Thomas Aquinas eight centuries ago, and remained important touchstones for man until the onset of Post Modernism, when everything went haywire.
Justice stands apart from the other three for the simple reason that it is a product of those other three. A man can exhibit strength, wisdom, and subdued passions in his values, attitudes, and conduct, and thus be a just man, but Justice is a virtue that can be practiced only by a society. It is a group effort by those who embody Fortitude, Prudence, and Temperance.
Of course you will hug your children a little longer and tighter today, and spend more time with them than usual this weekend. You love them, and you are experiencing a heightened awareness of how brief the cycle of life can be. Freemasonry speaks of man’s earthly existence almost as a triptych, with youth, adulthood, and the autumn of life all presented in a logical, complete progression, but most of the victims today had only tiptoed into youth. Aged five years, their first sustained socialization beyond the family was Sandy Hook Elementary, which is in the outside world.
The world outside really does not prize virtue the way it did. Instead it excuses as normal all manner of immaturity, profanity, dysfunction, corruption, and other crises of character that, in their aggregate effect, make life precarious for the rest of us. There is no defense against that. No tactical planning or strategic thinking can compensate for the decline of Justice in a society where Fortitude, Prudence, and Temperance do not define enough of its people.
Hold your children tight because the world they shall inherit will be dystopia.