The 5 Fundamental Virtues, The Foundation for a Modern Gentleman Part 2

On a previous article I gave a quick overview of the 8 Virtues of a Gentleman. Although I gave a rather general description of these, I think it would be valuable to go a little more in-depth for each, specially after a fellow writer made me reconsider adding an additional pair of Virtues.

Virtues of a Gentleman can be divided into two (2) groups, Fundamental Virtues and Application Virtues. For this article, let's focus on the Fundamental Virtues.

The Fundamental Virtues (Humility, Justice, Fortitude, Aesthetics, and Temperance) are the foundations and keystones of a Caballero’s character. These are the proper base you will need to be able to lead a proper life.

1. Humilitas

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.
Saint Augustine

Humility is the quality of being modest and respectful. It is about understanding that you are no better than above anyone else, but actually part of the world around you. The term originated from the Latin word for “being grounded” or “from the earth”. As an American Caballero, you must constantly remind yourself that you must be the foundation over which towers will rise to pierce the sky. You must remain grounded by understanding your own worth and existence. Only then can you rise to the occasion.

Understand that humility is not about acting humble for the sake of receiving praise or adulation. That’s like being good only because you want salvation and not because you are actually a good person. In that case, your actions are based on vanity or greed. People should remember the deed, and not the person who did it.

Also, it is not about thinking less of your own talents and skills. If you are good at something, you can be honest about it, just don’t brag. In my tournaments days, my instructor would always remind me that there was someone always better. If I won, it was because the best did not show up, and if I lost, it was because they showed up.

Humility is about understanding that you are part of a greater group, and in a way you are dependent of that group. Humility shows gratitude. Never ignore the efforts of others, for it is thanks to them that you have gotten this far, e.g., so instead of taking the credit, let everyone know that it is your team that deserves the glory of your success.

2. Aequitas

No weapon has ever settled a moral problem. It can impose a solution but it cannot guarantee it to be a just one.
Ernest Hemingway
Justice is the idea of a moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity, and fairness. It is also the administration of this rightness onto wrongness, if that is even a word. Most people think of Justice as retribution for being wronged, an eye for an eye, or about deterrence, scare people into doing what is right. Justice is actually about neither. It is about balancing the scales for everyone.

Originating from the Latin word for Righteousness and Equity, justice is about achieving harmony between everyone. It is about receiving back what you put in, where an American Caballero is simply an instrument of Karma. It is about being in the right place doing what is right for everyone involved. Do keep in mind that without temperance, justice runs the risk of becoming tyrannical.

Justice is not about “shooting evil dead” or about locking up whoever does wrong. Life is not that simple. We have been trying that for years, and it has still to work. These actions might be necessary, but as a result of justice, and not as a method of justice.  You must deal with the cause and not the symptom. Justice is not about finding faults, but about finding solutions.

3. Fortitudo

Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.
Will Smith
Fortitude is commonly mistaken for courage in this day and age. The big difference, Fortitude is about standing firm and determined when necessary and not about foolishly confronting danger for danger’s sake. Fortitude speaks about determination and dedication to one’s ideals. In shortage, you risk of falling into cowardice and in excess, into recklessness.Putting our bodies or lives in danger when it is not necessary is not fortitude but foolishness.

Originating from the Latin word that means Strength, Force, or Firmness, fortitude is essential to the Virtues of Temperance and Justice.Fortitude allows us to overcome fear and to remain steady in our will in the face of obstacles. Temperance and Justice are the virtues through which we decide what needs to be done; fortitude gives us the strength to do it.Without the courage to try something, you will achieve nothing. Fortitude is not about seeking martyrdom, but rather the willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice, if necessary, to stand up for what is right.

Fortitude allows us to cope with the difficulties fate and life will send our way. It’s not just about standing firm, but also about moving forward, deliberately facing your challenges. It gives strength when all you want to do is give up, and determination to keep going.

4. Temperare

Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Temperance, or sophrosyne in Greek, is defined as moderation in action, thought or feelings. In the way that humility is the foundation of virtues; no other virtue could exist without temperance, the ability to control yourself. Choose to live simply, refraining from self-gratifications or extravagances, and place hard work before reward. It is about controlling yourself and maintaining self-restraint from falling into impulses.

If you become arrogant with wealth and vice, you sow the seeds of your own misfortune. If you boast about your own achievements, you lose your credibility. If you are arrogant, you experience no growth in wisdom.  Cervantes stated that a Caballero must “drink moderately, for the drunk neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise”.

Always remember that our greatest enemy is within ourselves. It is easy to become vain, to think we are above others. No impulse is so powerful that may not be subdued by discipline. The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others can expect to be treated. 

5. Aisthetikos

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

Aesthetics is the appreciation of beauty and the ability to find it in everything around you. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensory-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as "critical reflection on art, culture and nature." 

Originating from the Greek aisthetikos, meaning "sensitive, perceptive," or from aisthanesthai, meaning "to perceive (by the senses or by the mind), to feel." It’s about being able to view and find beauty all around you. It is about refining your senses and defining your tastes to be able to appreciate your world.  

Aesthetics is not about looking at pretty things. It is about finding the beauty in the world around you to elevate your spirit and your senses. You have to actively be looking for this beauty, because even though it is all around you, you might miss it while you focus on the more menial things in life.