Our Core Virtues

"But in truth Justice was, as it seems, something of this sort; however, not with respect to a man's minding his external business, but with respect to what is within, with respect to what truly concerns him and his own."​



“I will choose to think well and act correctly.”

Prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. It is classically considered to be a cardinal virtue and has a directive capacity with regard to the other virtues. It lights the way and measures the arena for their exercise. Without prudence, bravery becomes foolhardiness; mercy sinks into weakness, free self-expression and kindness into censure, humility into degradation and arrogance, selflessness into corruption, and temperance into fanaticism. The function of prudence is to point out which course of action is to be taken in any concrete circumstances. 

Howard Chandler Christy (1940), Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States


“I will be brave and persevere in difficult times.”

Courage (also called bravery or valor) is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, even death, or threat of death; while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition.

Emanuel Leutze (1851), Washington Crossing the Delaware


“I will exercise self-control, discretion, and temperance in all things.”

Moderation, also known as temperance, is defined as voluntary self-restraint. This includes restraint from revenge by practicing non-violence and forgiveness, restraint from arrogance by practicing humility and modesty, restraint from excesses such as extravagant luxury or splurging, and restraint from rage or craving by practicing calmness and self-control.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1560), Landscape with the Fall of Icarus


“I will obey rules, respect authority, and treat others fairly.”

Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes “deserving” being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, including the concepts of moral correctness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness.

 Jacques-Louis David (1787), The Death of Socrates


“I will seek those things which are good, true, and beautiful.”

Wisdom is the ability to contemplate and act productively using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. It is associated with attributes such as unbiased judgment, compassion, experiential self-knowledge, self-transcendence and non-attachment. Wisdom is the capacity to have foreknowledge of something, to know the consequences of all the available course of actions, and to yield or take the options with the most advantage either for present or future implication.

Raphael (1509-1511), The School of Athens


“I will not be prideful or arrogant in my words, actions, or habits.”

Humility is the quality of being humble; a trait that is characterized by a modest and respectful attitude towards oneself and others. Humility  contrasts with narcissism, hubris and other forms of pride and is an idealistic and rare intrinsic construct that has an extrinsic side.

Rembrandt (1661-1669), The Return of the Prodigal Son


“I will admire and learn with all my heart.”

Wonder is comparable to the surprise that people feel when perceiving something rare or unexpected (but not threatening). It has historically been seen as an important aspect of human nature, specifically being linked with curiosity and the drive behind intellectual exploration. Wonder is also often compared to the emotion of awe, but awe implies fear or respect rather than joy. 

 Johannes Vermeer (1668), The Astronomer


“I will treat others with respect and seek friends who make me better.”

Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. It is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an “acquaintance” or an “association”. Friendships are foremost formed by choice, typically on the basis that the parties involved admire each other on an intimate level, enjoying aspects such as commonality and socializing.

 Winslow Homer (1872), Snap the Whip


“I will act with civility and serve others wherever possible.”

Responsibility is a commitment or expectation to perform some action in general or if certain circumstances arise. Responsibility may arise from a system of ethics or morality. A civic responsibility is often perceived as something owed to one’s country (patriotism), or to one’s homeland or community.

Federico Barocci (1598), Aeneas Fleeing from Troy


“I will have an attitude of thankfulness and say thank you to others.”

Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation (or similar positive response) by a recipient of another’s kindness. This kindness can be gifts, help, favors, or another form of generosity to another person. Gratitude contributes not only to positive affect and other life outcomes, but also to a decrease in negative affect.

Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1925), Thanksgiving at Plymouth