Pride is good, great stuff. For so long the LGBT community suffered from the opposite of pride: shame. We can congratulate ourselves on finding our pride and making it strong and solid.
So now what?
Out of curiosity, I Googled “pride” and was reminded that it is considered one of the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath and envy are the others). Then I was directed to “the seven heavenly virtues”.
The virtues – before they were called “heavenly” – were defined by the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato. However, when they first came into being, there were only four. It was not until later that the other three were added. Let’s take a look at all seven and see if any of them could be useful to us proud LGBTers today.
Chastity: Well, what can I say? It’s not high in most people’s priorities. However, let’s dig a bit deeper. Could there be some usefulness for us here? Do we sometimes emphasize sex a bit too much? I am proud to be a sex-positive therapist, but I wonder if sometimes a little chastity might be a good thing. The definition of chastity also includes obstaining from sexual misconduct. No games, no lies, no bullshit. Let’s also consider the friendship of romance – the emotional connection in sex – and cultivating good health and hygiene as part of a contemporary definition of chastity.
Temperance: “What the hell is that?” You may be asking. Temperance is about moderation: not going too far, finding a middle path, as the Buddhists recommend. The skillful use of restraint, mindfulness of other people, practicing self-control and delayed gratification are other aspects of temperance. For any of us with tendencies toward addictive behavior, temperance could be extremely useful. Drama queens and control queens: this means you.
Charity: We think we know what this means, but let’s expand the definition to include situations where we put others first. It’s not just about benevolent giving. Do you know the spiritual term “agape”? This is charity at its best: aspiring to unconditional love and forgiving others for their mistakes. Even right-wingers? Yes.
Diligence: Unless you’re a lawyer, this isn’t a word you probably hear a lot. It’s about being careful in your actions and work, having a healthy work ethic and the ability to not give up when the going gets tough. Can you do this at all times, even when no one else is watching?
Patience: For many of us, impatience seems to be our middle name. Living with patience is about not giving up when things don’t come quickly and easily. It also includes resolving conflicts peacefully and creating a sense of peaceful stability and community rather than encouraging hostility and antagonism. Patient people have a quiet confidence: they have the ability to keep working, hold to their vision and know that – eventually – good things will come to them.
Kindness: Here is a virtue that most of us aspire to. Kindness is about compassion, empathy and trust without prejudice or resentment. As proud LGBTers, it’s easy to be kind to people who love and support us, but can we do the same to people who are ignorant and condemn us?
Humility: Outside of spiritual circles, this seems to be rather passe, isn’t it? I love this quote: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” Humility is a spirit of self-examination and courage of heart necessary to undertake work that is difficult, tedious or unglamorous. It’s about honoring those who have wisdom, like our elders, giving credit where credit is due and not glorifying yourself.
It seems ironic to me that these seven old-fashioned sounding “virtues” are actually quite relevant to our community today. We have many, many good reasons to be proud of who we are, where we came from and what we’ve accomplished. Bravo! Good for us. But, since we’ve pretty much got that down, I think it’s time to ask: What’s next?
We are strong, we are smart, we are powerful. Could our next challenges be to grow more patient, kind, temperate, charitable, diligent, chaste and humble?