Given that the term moral is seed so frequently and broadly, moral virtues will be called cardinal virtues here (in the book)” (p. 66). Before discussing the dilemma, it would be helpful to quickly discuss what the four Cardinal Virtues are, as defined by Mattson. The first of the Cardinal Virtues, temperance, is defined by Mattson “as the virtue that helps us desire and enjoy pleasures well” (p. 75). Simply stated, this virtue is the one that helps us enjoy the good things that we want in the world and leads us to want them.
Mattson continues the explanation by stating that “temperance is about not only doing pleasurable activities for the DOD reasons, but also having the desires to act well, and not having desires to act poorly’ (p. 78). The second cardinal virtue that was discussed was the virtue of prudence. Mattson describes this as ‘the virtue that disposes us to see rightly, the way things are in the world around us, and to employ that truthful vision to act rightly’ (p. 98). More simply stated, the virtue of prudence is about seeing the truth in the world and also acting in a truthful manner.
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Mattson continues, stating that “prudence is needed to effectively exercise any virtuous action” (p. 99). The third virtue that Mattson talks about is justice. Mattson states that “(a)s a virtue, justice is a steady disposition (a habit) in someone to give other people their due” (p. 136). Mattson is saying here that justice is about giving people what is right for their actions. If someone acts poorly, punish them. If someone acts in a good manner, reward them. The final cardinal virtue is the virtue of fortitude.
As Mattson states it, fortitude “is most basically defined as the virtue that enables one to face obstacles or difficulties well” (p. 181). Without this virtue, it would be very official for us to enjoy the good things in life. If we were not able to work through the rough times in our lives, we would not appreciate the good times and good things in our lives. The dilemma that this paper will discuss is one that have dealt with for any extended period in my life. When finally truly dealt with it, I think that I made the correct choice for myself and based on the four Cardinal Virtues.
The dilemma is how to deal with a parent who is not there for their child and who emotionally abuses their child. When was about 12, my mother and father separated. At this time did not know how such of an alcoholic my father was. It was not until after my mother left him that noticed more. The reason I started noticing was because he would come into my room every night extremely drunk and begin yelling at me. I would cower on my bed and try not to make him any angrier than he already was.
After he finished yelling at me, he would pass out on my bedroom floor. The smell of alcohol coming out of his pores was horrific and made me have to leave my room and go downstairs to sleep on the couch. Even though I know now that he was being mentally abusive to me and abusing his body, I anted to try to save him and would also blame myself. I know that I should have been looking out for myself and delivering the virtue of justice to my father by moving out and living with my mother. Instead, I stuck it out and lived with him for four more years.
During this time, he continued to drink, continued to yell at me, continued to add pressure on me to do more and more around the house while doing less and less himself, and generally made my life very difficult. When was 16, finally moved out, with the help of my youth minister at church (who was also a good friend of my father), and Ovid in with my mother and her now-husband. My father chose to basically disown me at this time. I found out later that I am not the first son that he has disowned because they “abandoned him. Knowing what I know today, realize that could have easily used the four Cardinal Virtues to get me out of this situation a lot sooner than I did. As I stated, I should have given my father his proper justice and moved out from him, denying him any support system and anyone to abuse. No person deserves to be mentally and emotionally abused by any other person, especially a parent. I could have also delivered justice to him by pointing out to our church, who I later found out allowed him to borrow a lot of money, that he was being abusive towards me and spending a lot of money on alcohol and, as also later found out, pornography.
I also failed to use the virtue of Temperance. Was not seeking out the pleasures of the world, including a happy home life. Should have sought out happiness by moving in with my mother soon, or at least confiding in her what was going on and not keeping everything bottled up inside me. Had I used Temperance, I could have had much more fun in my youth and en able to seek out more enjoyable ways to be around my friends and family. Because of my father’s actions I chose to not have many friends because I would not be able to invite them over to our house.
Having failed to deliver proper justice to my father and using temperance to find an enjoyable life myself, also failed to Prudence. Had I pointed out what my father was doing and recognized it as wrong instead of trying to partially blame myself for the problem, I could have possibly assisted him in finding help and possibly prevented him from hurting himself or, potentially, others. I should eve been more truthful with those around me, including my mother, my church, and people at school, and told them honestly what was going on and tried to ask them for help.
I realize now that the path he chose was not my fault. He didn’t use his own ethical virtues and chose to take a path that would damage not only himself, but also his family. Even though I didn’t use the first three virtues, I think Fortitude helped me to get through the rough times and helped me to see the mistakes made before with this situation. Because of Fortitude, I am able to not repeat the mistakes that I made in the sat and I’m able to enjoy what is to come.
I do think could have used more fortitude at the time to help me face the decisions better in the moment and try to make the right decisions then, however I’m able to easily look back and see what mistakes I made, what mistakes my father made, and work at correcting those if a similar situation comes up in the future. I may not have handled the difficult situation well right away, but I was able to handle it well in the end, using my fortitude to finally break free from the abuse that I faced and make my life better.
While I do understand that I made mistakes, I think there is a lot of proof that many people have made the same mistakes. This is not an excuse, but makes it more understandable for why I chose the actions did at the time. It has been over 10 years since have spoken with my father, but that is not due to lack of effort on my part. I have tried to make contact with him, only to be rebuffed on multiple occasions. My father also failed to use any ethical values when making his decision to be mentally and emotionally abusive to his son. Had I been more honest with people around e, would have also had better results.
Stance & Gushes (2003) focus primarily on the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew in speaking about how the New Testament deals with truth telling in our speech. As stated on page 375, “the only imperative verb is found in the climax of this teaching, verse 37 – “lets your word be Yes, Yes, or No, No. ‘” Because didn’t tell anyone what was going on, and I also denied that anything was wrong when directly asked, also was not using honest truth telling, as taught by Jesus. Being honest would have also helped me use my four Cardinal Virtues better. This situation as one of the toughest things that I have ever had to deal with in my life.
When was 16 and finally used all of my Cardinal Virtues properly and got the assistance I needed, my life took a turn for the better. I was truthful to my mother and to people at church about what was going on at home. I finally used my prudence to get out of a situation that should have been done with long before that time. I dealt justice to my father by moving out from under his roof and finding out what a loving family was like once again. Even though the outcome, him disowning me, was not the desired outcome for me, it was till the best thing that I could do.
It used all of my fortitude to deal with this difficult situation and finally take the actions that I should have taken years before. And by finally using my temperance, I was able to search out the best path for me and enjoy the new life and new chances that had been given. I was given an opportunity to finally enjoy more of my childhood than I had been allowed to the previous four years. Using our Cardinal Virtues and also by being honest in our speech will help us to have much better and happier lives. At the same time, it will help us make decisions much easier.