Virtue is defined as behavior showing good moral standards. The general public may think that pagan’s have no virtue. This image from perceptionvsfact.com shows a pretty good representation of that very thought process.
Recently I've seen posts on Facebook related to truth, which in my opinion is indeed a virtue. I believe that we should always tell the truth. Many people retort with, it’s the truth to you. No, really I think the truth is the truth. No matter what your position, stealing is wrong. Stealing to because you’re poor and need food is just a migrating circumstance. It doesn't change the fact that taking something that doesn't belong to you is wrong.
So let’s examine what pagan virtues are. (Definitions are from Merriam-webster.com)
Understanding – a willingness to understand people’s behavior and forgive them
What it doesn't mean – It doesn't mean that someone has the right to continue to do things to you over and over and one has to accept it. It doesn't mean be a doormat. It means understand that person has the right to believe how they believe, as long as they don’t force it on someone else. To me this also means that sometimes it is necessary to give yourself a break. Be understanding that you won’t always make the right decision. Sometimes mistakes are made.
Caring – an effort made to do something correctly, safely or without causing damage
What it doesn't mean – It doesn't mean continue to support someone when the continually engage in dangerous, abusive or negative behavior. It doesn't mean letting people use your resources be they financial or emotional without some sort of reciprocation. That reciprocation could be a monetary, emotional or just a nod. To me this also means that they care about themselves as well. One cannot truly care for another if they do not have the ability to care for themselves.
Giving – to offer as appropriate to due, especially to something higher
What it doesn't mean – It doesn't mean that one be penniless or a pauper. It doesn't mean that one will always be on the giving end of either. To me this means that they not only give to others but also to themselves. Giving time and praise to oneself is extremely important.
Honesty – fairness and straightforwardness of conduct – adherence to the facts
What it doesn't mean is beating people up with the truth. It doesn't mean attacking someone with facts or hurting them just because the truth is on one’s side. To me, the key here is fairness, something I care a great deal about. As a follower of Hecate, I believe that justice is something she stands for. To me being fair in all I do and standing by what I say I will do is absolute. There are no other options for me.
It is easy in today’s world to hide behind a keyboard and lash out at others. We see the world around us falling apart it seems with violence and poverty all around us. We see people judge each other constantly. There’s a lot of chatter but not a great deal of actual talking.
I’d really like to see that change. I’d like to see us really care about each other. Not just say “how are you” when you don’t really care; actually start to connect to each other on a very basic level. Take our virtues and share them. Show the couple next door or the guy across the street that as pagan people we are open to understanding what each other has to give.
We will open our hearts and minds to others, while giving ourselves the appropriate permission to protect ourselves.