The Cardinal Virtues: A Firefighter’s Guide to Life

After a busy couple of weeks, I have once again found myself sitting on the front porch of my home pondering the path that the Lord has laid out in front of me. Many of us think that we are in control and celebrate the manner in which we have chosen to...


Is your life to be one of drunken excess or drug-induced coma? Is it to be one where work is the only motivation, to the exclusion of your family? Or is it to be a life lived where all things are enjoyed in moderation. Here too folks the choice is truly yours. I have seen many people in the fire service who have chosen to drink to excess. They became loud, nasty, and unruly. They were unable to do their job, and they failed themselves and their team at critical times. Many also lost their families in the process.
 
People who have these sorts of substance abuse problems are a danger to themselves and their co-workers. Without the necessary quick wit to thin properly they may do the wrong thing at the wrong time, or fail to complete an essential task in the proper order. If you have a clear mind you will be a better team member, one more able to carry your share of the load during times of stress and danger.
 
I am not saying that you should be a prude or a bluenose. You should wisely judge the manner in which you intend to use intoxicating spirits. You should also avoid illicit drugs like the plague they truly are. There is no such thing as a little bit of excess. You owe it to the members of your team to show up ready to work, and capable of understanding all orders and performing any tasks given to you. This is a decision you must make for yourself, but you can guess the way I am asking you to think about making it.
 
Lastly, justice is that standard of right which enables us to render to every person their just due without distinction. This virtue is enjoined by both human and divine law, and serves as the foundation and support of civil society. Quite simply, treating all people in the same manner is a great way to insure that no one gets an unfair advantage that might lead to mistrust and trouble. After all, does it not say in the preamble to our very own constitution that all men are created equal? 
 
Think about it. Is this not another variation of the Golden Rule? Do unto other people as you would have them do unto you. I cannot make it any simpler for you. My research into the leadership field has identified any number of problems that come from people who treat others poorly. I urge you to use restraint in your dealings with others.
 
Think before you act. Words once uttered can never be recovered. You can apologize for hurting others and seek forgiveness. However, the impact of what you say will remain with those you have impacted for life. Trust me when I say this. I have lost friends and made enemies by speaking before thinking. I urge you to wisely judge and prudently determine how you are going to share your life on this earth with others. 
 
It is my hope that this journey with you today might have the desired effect that I seek. I urge you to understand the four cardinal virtues I have outlined in this commentary. I ask you to weigh the relative merit of each as a part of the puzzle that makes up your life.
 
Let me ask you to weight the potential for their use in your life. Lastly, I pray that they can have an impact upon you and your career. The future of our fire service depends on you. Please work to become a better and more productive member.