Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Big Three

Back in the 1960s as a switchboard operator for a medical answering service I couldn't help hearing the first few words of the doctors' conversations as I plugged them in to the callers' connections. By the time I'd worked there for a week I knew which doctors were good and which were terrible, although I'd never met them or seen their credentials. The good ones had compassion, integrity, and common sense.
Several years later I had three sons with various special needs and knew they would probably never grow up to have careers or raise families, but I hoped they would have the same three qualities.
I recently learned Aristotle had said to be persuasive people need ethos (integrity,) pathos (compassion) and logos (intelligence.)  
The Bible verse, Micah 6:8 says, "...what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"(King James Version.) Justice requires integrity and mercy requires compassion, but what about common sense? We tend to think of humility as thinking badly of ourselves, but the original meaning was to know one's place. Knowing our place in relation to God (We're not the center of the universe.) is obviously common sense.
Although I can't offer quotations, I understand other religions also have lists of three important qualities people should have that can be translated to mean the same three things; integrity, compassion, and common sense.. 
Even if we don't succeed at the things our society values like getting fame and fortune, if we have those three qualities we're successful human beings.

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