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What are your cardinal virtues?

George Washington Carver reminded us, "Where there is no vision, there is no hope." Carver was a committed scientist, always looking for ways to improve the soil that otherwise would have been depleted by years and years of planting the cotton crops of the day. His desire was to see agriculture take on the 'preservation' of the soil nutrients, planting in such a ways so as to allow the soil to 'regenerate' and be renewed. Did you know he was a Christian man? He was one of the first to proclaim that all of science is aided by the understanding of what it is to be in Christ Jesus - in other words, his faith 'enabled' him to be a good scientist. He could have been a very wealthy man, but instead he lived an average life, pouring himself into his work, his family, and the betterment of agriculture. On his grave you will find these words: He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.

Where there is no message from God, people don’t control themselves. But blessed is the one who obeys wisdom’s instruction. (Proverbs 29:18)

Vision gives us purpose - it helps to define our every step. Where there is no vision, the people perish. Where there is a partial vision, hope is ignited. Where there is a strong vision, purpose is unwavering. I think Carver had unwavering purpose. As a black man, his efforts in the arena of agricultural science were not easily accepted by others in the scientific community. He was born a slave, challenged every step of the way, yet never lost hope of that spark of vision God put there deep within him. He was a sickly child and teen, with very little hope of growing up into old age. He never let his hope be dashed, though. He fought time and time again 'against the odds' and actually lived to a ripe old age well into his late seventies. Had he not have taken a fall down the staircase in his last days, he may have even lived longer!

Do you know the eight cardinal virtues he lived by? They speak volumes:
  • Be clean both inside and out.
  • Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
  • Lose, if need be, without squealing.
  • Win without bragging.
  • Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.
  • Be too brave to lie.
  • Be too generous to cheat.
  • Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.
I would say Mr. Carver had the right vision for life, wouldn't you? Be clean both inside and out - live with integrity and strong moral turpitude. Treat all equally, don't be puffed up with pride, and don't pout when you fail or lose. Treat others well - like you'd like to be treated. I imagine that one may have been pretty hard because his white masters on the plantations he worked didn't always treat him well. Be too brave to lie - rising above any desire to 'cover up' any action, good or bad. Carry forward that honesty and integrity into all your interactions, never finding ways to take advantage of others. Take, but not so much so as to deny another. I imagine he gave without thinking of how it would affect him - knowing that others had needs and he might be able to meet them.

We could all take a lesson about vision and purpose from Mr. Carver. Without a clear vision (like he laid out in his cardinal virtues), the people perish. What 'cardinal virtues' have you adopted in your life? Go ahead - I challenge you to actually write those out today. You might be surprised just how hard it is to put into words the 'virtues' you say you are committed to in this life. Just sayin!


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