Puh-rew-dens? What is Puh-rew-dens?
Of all the topics near and dear to my heart, the issue of human character is the one that I appreciate the most. Every once in a while, I get a chance to share some of the things that I’ve learned about character development with those around me. I experienced such an event earlier this evening, and I want to share it with you.
The question mentioned in the title was asked of me by a 27-year-old female coworker. For those of you haven’t guessed it yet, the topic of our conversation was prudence. She didn’t know what this word means, so I tried to provide her with the simplest definition of prudence that I could think of.
“Prudence is a when a person looks at a situation they are facing with the viewpoint of what would and/or world not be a wise choice for them to make in the long run”.
We got into an interesting conversation about how prudence is a character trait that a person can develop during their life, how it affects the choices they make in their response to the situations they face on a day to day basis, how it influences the person they become over the years of their life, etc.
I’ve wondered…if a person doesn’t comprehend the reality of a specific concept, how likely are they to succeed in applying that concept to the choices they make in life? If a person doesn’t comprehend concepts such as prudence, will they realize how and when to apply prudence to the context of a situation? If the individual doesn’t comprehend other concepts directly involved in character development, such as trustworthiness, integrity, discernment, honesty, etc. then to what extent will the individual strive to develop reflections of those qualities in their own character? If the individual doesn’t comprehend human character, how well will they succeed in evaluating the character of candidates running for political office?
Our founding fathers firmly believed it to be our right to evaluate the character of those we elect into office. John Adams said in the Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law, 1765:
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.”
I know that our usage of the English language has changed over time, but we seem to be losing the concept behind some of those words, like prudence. There appears to be a direct correlation between the loss of the words from our vocabulary and the loss of the concepts from our lives.
This has become my battle-field, much in the same way that politics has become the battle-field for other members of Red State. This is where my own personal strengths lie. This is where I sow the seed that I can in what ways I can. This is where I pick up the sword in one hand and the shield in another.
The character of a nation is never any greater than the combined strengths of character found in each one of its citizens.