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"Fortitude," by Sandro Botticelli

Fortitude by Sandro Botticelli

Fortitude: an important virtue for any writer. I've been musing on virtues these days as, in my old age, I shift a bit, perhaps, to a more conservative frame of mind. But why should virtues be conservative? According to classical liberalism, wasn't it true that freedom was important because it was an avenue to virtue? Is that how "liberals" look at freedom today? Is that how "conservatives" do? As a teacher and in my work for the Peace Literacy Institute, I was always reminded how important it was that individual freedom be balanced with individual responsibility. It must be true for nations as well. Freedom with responsibility creates a kind of virtue, I suppose. Artistic freedom. Political freedom. Freedom of speech and religion. They all must carry their respective responsibilities. But the virtues I've been contemplating recently are Aristotle's four cardinal virtues: Justice, Fortitude, Prudence (practical wisdom), and Temperance (restraint, moderation). But fortitude, as my New Oxford American dictionary says, is "courage in pain or adversity." Ah, yes. Something every writer needs.


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Beauty and Meaning

Long ago I decided to devote myself to writing because I wanted to devote myself to a life and work that expressed beauty and meaning. That is still my goal.

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