Our society and culture today not only inhibits men and women from developing and practicing the moral virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude, amongst others, it encourages them to pursue comfort, material excess, and instant gratification. The pursuit of these vices harms not only the individuals who seek them but also the societies and communities of which they are a part.
COR wilderness settings challenge participants to employ and practice virtues and leadership because in outdoor settings, decisions have real social, physical, spiritual, and emotional consequences. Prudence is required because every decision, even deciding whether to eat first or set up tents first, can have a large impact on the quality of your time out in the elements or with the other participants in your group. Temperance is demanded in the portioning and rationing of time, food, and energy because in the wilderness resources are limited, and help and home can be a long way away. For example, the only food you have is what you carried in on your back. Therefore it may be necessary to ration so you do not run completely out of food. Also, you may not “like” the food that you have but you must eat in order to be strong enough to complete your activity. Justice is important because all members of a group need to be treated with dignity and respect so that conflict does not arise, or if it does it can be resolved in a permanent way. Fortitude is practiced through long days of hiking, carrying heavy packs, the strenuous peak assents, encountering new and difficult situations, such as bad weather, and a multitude of other ways.
Only the virtuous person is free to become who God made him to be, because only the virtuous person has built up the discipline and discernment to choose the best of many good things, and to overcome his instincts and appetites when they would lead him astray. Only the virtuous person is free because he is the only one who has the ability to accomplish all that is asked of him. Virtue is the key to forming individuals who can lead and change families, society, and the world.
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