The D/Lakota Virtues

  • Wówalitake - Fortitude: This is about sticking to something that is worthwhile. It relates to enduring until the goal is reached. Fortitude requires the willingness to suffer some, if necessary, to do what is right, good or healthful in the long haul. When people have this character trait, they do not allow the easy way out or an emphasis on convenience to overshadow these things.

    Wóohitike - Courage/Bravery: Courage or bravery was defined by Lakota educator, Pat Locke, as the "strength of character which equips us to meet danger and trouble, to live our values, and to tell the truth in the face of ignorance." We cannot think of a better one. Courage is the quality of mind that enables us to risk what we value for a higher purpose.

    Wóowotȟaŋla - Integrity: We use this word to describe what one has when one firmly adheres to and identifies with the virtues for the right reasons and when no one is looking. Integrity is acting on the awareness of spirituality. The origins of the word, "integer," are about "oneness." Integrity is a synonym for "good character," except that good character also, by our definition, calls for the following trait (peacefulness) as well.

    Wówičakȟe - Honesty: An honest person, in our opinion, does what he or she says. Honesty is about being trustworthy. People with this character trait truly care about truth and here we want to repeat Parker Palmer's definition of truth as being a "conversation about things that matter conducted with passion and discipline." The passion is about sincerity and the discipline relates to the five inner skills in the conceptual model. We see honesty as a subcategory of integrity.

    Wóuŋšiič’iye - Humility: We regard humility as the essential ingredient for learning with all of our senses. We can only listen and pay true attention to something when we let go of our preconceptions. We cannot feel any arrogance over nature and its creatures. We cannot assume we already know the answers or that we are better or higher than another. To us, humility is not about humiliation, self-abasement, penitence for sin or being unworthy in the sight of God, according to our interpretation. Humility, as we are defining it, is a freedom from pride and arrogance that recognizes equity and equality. It is manifested by a great appreciation for the many gifts life and God have to offer us.

    Wówačhaŋtognake - Generosity: Generosity is one of the most obvious virtues among American Indians. Lakota people actually measured their worth by how much they gave away. Those unadulterated too much by western culture's emphasis on material wealth still do. Generosity is about giving and/or sharing our time, our wealth, our ideas or our possessions in behalf of others. One way to think of it is as the opposite of greed or selfishness. A person with this trait has a good balance between taking care of self and taking care of others.

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