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The intersection of patience and social justice

October 28, 2020

DBA Doctoral Chevrons News

It is no secret; patience is a virtue. Many children’s parables inform us of the need for patience. Some of us may even be familiar with the famous marshmallow experiment conducted over 40 years ago. The lesson is, if we wait and follow directions, we will receive a just reward.

Br. Agathon illuminates the importance of patience. He asserts that it affords us the capacity to overcome trammels. He continues by espousing that patience is not only essential for promoting human flourishing, but it also affords us the ability to overcome our trials and ills. In the context of teaching, Br. Agathon reminds us not to despair when engaging with a recalcitrant student. By demonstrating patience and other fruitful virtues, the young person may imbibe the positive character traits. There is no debate; patience helps to promote an engaging classroom as well as a flourishing community.

However, Aristotle avows the need to adjudicate various virtues by exhibiting phronesis or practical wisdom. He acknowledges the value inherent in the various virtues, but suggests true human flourishing rests with the ability to leverage various virtues in a sagacious manner. As such, the author will briefly explore the intersection of patience and social justice.

Social justice is the substrate of one of the five Lasallian core principles. It prods us not to ignore the voices of the marginalized, and not to abscond from the cries of the victims of physical and economic violence. Social justice is the voice in our hearts and minds encouraging us to engage in assisting the historically disenfranchised. We are called to do so because social justice helps to promote human flourishing.

At the finish line of social justice, every child, regardless of color, creed, or economic beginnings is gifted with the ability to realize her or his fullest potential. If this is so, how can we be patient in the presence of social injustice? How can we take pleasure in saying, things are getting better? Is it wise to celebrate our probity as we say to ourselves, look how far we have come? How is less brutality a virtue? A wise man alluded to the analogy, if you stick a knife in my back 10 inches and remove it by six inches that is not progress.

Patience has its place as it is one of the virtues of a flourishing society. However, phronesis is a meta-virtue that allows us to consider context, and based on the contours of our reality, it informs us which virtue to call on. As it pertains to the current and historic crimes against humanity, it would seem only logical that social justice should take precedence. In the miasma of our existential reality, we should put the virtue of patience on the shelf and leverage our core values to help promote human flourishing.