Unification News for February 1997

The Loveliness of Virtue

by Haven Bradford Gow

How do we teach young people about virtue? What qualities should a virtuous human being possess and display?

The new book, A Child's Garden of Virtues (Dimensions for Living, Box 801, Nashville, TN) is a praiseworthy effort to teach young people about such virtues as love, loyalty, courage and humility. According to this fine work, "Love is a deep personal feeling for others. Christian love includes being loyal to others and taking responsibility for others. Jesus showed love clearly by his concern and care for others and by his life and death. We show our love for Jesus by taking care of other people."

Concerning courage, the book says: "To have courage means to be strong and to stand up for what we believe is right. We often have to be strong about small things like being kind to someone others treat unkindly. Sometimes we have to show courage by choosing not to do something, like taking drugs, when all our friends are doing it."

Regarding humility, the book says this: "Humility is not thinking of ourselves as better than others. We often say that Jesus showed humility when he left heaven and came to earth to live just as we do. We try to live like Jesus by putting others first."

To be sure, the best way to teach children about virtue is to display virtue in our own lives. Please reflect on these examples of virtue and how they may inspire us to become virtuous, too:

* Recently in an Illinois suburb, a young Asian-American man, David Yi, found $12,000 in cash and checks; instead of keeping the money, he returned it to a newlywed couple. Mr. Yi no doubt received a good moral upbringing from his family, one which emphasized virtuous thinking and behavior. And this is how Mr. Yi explained his good deed: "I guess it doesn't matter whether it's $50 or $1,000 or $1 million. It doesn't belong to you. It's just right from wrong."

* In Charleston, S.C., a similar act of virtue occurred when Jimmy Wright, 10, and his brother Jerrell, 12, decided to give a nearby police officer a bank envelope they found containing $1,000. Their mother was rightly proud of her sons, and she explained that from the time they could understand, she had taught them good morals and good manners; she stated, "I taught them what you find doesn't belong to you, and what you earn does belong to you."

* A few years ago in Greenville, Miss., Calvin Barksdale, a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier, was laid off from work because of a misunderstanding. Instead of becoming bitter and resentful, Calvin got down on his knees and asked God to help him get his job back. He says, "God loves us when we are humble and ask Him for help. Whenever we have problems, we simply have to ask God to guide us and pick us up. Sometimes He sends us a trial like when I lost my job so He can test our faith and love." God apparently answered Mr. Barksdale's prayers because he is back at work at the U.S. Post Office in Greenville, Miss.

* When Simon Zhou arrived in Quincy, Mass., twenty years ago after spending all his life in China, he could not speak a word of English. To support his wife and small son, who had come to America with him, Mr. Zhou got a job as a cook in a Boston area restaurant. He worked six days a week and 12 hours each day. Before going to work in the late morning, Mr. Zhou went to English language class at a nearby school. There he gradually learned to speak and write English. Today, Mr. Zhou has a good-paying factory job in the Boston area, his wife

works for a bank, and his son graduated from college with honors and now is working for a prestigious corporation in the Boston area. Mr. Zhou is modest about the accomplishments of his family and gives the credit to God, religious faith and friends and relatives who inspired him and his family to believe that the American dream can be an everyday reality.

* Alvin Meyer, Jr. is a well-to-do farmer in Eudora, Ark. However, instead of being obsessed with making money and possessing material goods, Mr. Meyer has dedicated his life to serving God and others less fortunate. Each year Mr. Meyer takes a group of economically and culturally disadvantaged children on an educational/cultural trip to Washington, D.C. so these young people can learn to develop a positive view of life and other human beings. Besides sponsoring such tours, Mr. Meyer regularly visits lonely elderly people residing in nursing homes.

* In Greenville, Miss., Jerome Sit is a prominent businessman and a member of the Chinese Christian Mission at the First Baptist Church; but more than that, he is a good Christian husband, father and now grandfather. Mr. Sit and his wife have been married for 50 years, and with so many marriages breaking up, it is truly inspiring to find a couple who have made marriage into something happy, successful and enduring. And what are the ingredients of happy, successful and enduring marriages? Mr. Sit provides this insight: "After my wife and I got married, we went home and the first thing I did was to take her hand. Then we both got down on our knees and prayed to God and asked Him to bless our marriage and guide us through life. We also asked Him to help us be good parents, too. It takes a great deal of humility, love and religious faith to make a marriage last."

Inspiring examples such as these help us to see the beautiful side of life and human beings, and make us realize the loveliness of virtue.

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