Virtue of the Week: Counsel


Woodrow Wilson once said that “We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find wise counsel.” This is so true. Our world is filled with so much “noise” that we simply can’t hear wise counsel (even if we stumble over it on accident). Let’s work hard this week to seek and keep wise counsel!

Wise counsel will come from individuals who know the difference between:

  • what is ultimately good and what is just currently popular.
  • what is really valuable and what is just cheap.
  • a smart investment and just a quick profit.
  • what is earned and what is only borrowed.
  • what is achieved by hard work and what is just lucky.
  • being happy and just having fun.
  • what is beautiful and what just looks attractive.
  • what is ultimately right and what may just be socially legal.
  • what is really a generous gift and what is just a selfish token.
  • a sincere apology and a weak excuse.
  • what is true and what is just a matter of popular opinion.
  • what is to be hard sought and what is to be tolerated.
  • when help is appropriate and when it should be withheld to encourage one to struggle.
  • love and lust.
  • what is really dangerous and what may just be somewhat risky.
  • what is worth fighting against and what one should run from.
  • what is a legitimate source of hope and what is a technique of mass marketing.
  • a real miracle and a magic trick.
  • what is wise and what is foolish.
  • what is a divine blessing and what is a demonic temptation.
  • what can last forever and what is only temporary.

One of my favorite songs about wise counsel, is commonly referred to as “The Sunscreen Song”. It is what sounds like a commencement speech, set to music. In fact it is not a real commencement speech but rather a column that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997 entitled “ADVICE, LIKE YOUTH, PROBABLY JUST WASTED ON THE YOUNG” by staff writer Mary Schmich. Sometime around Thursday, July 31, 1997, Mary’s article found it’s way onto the internet in the form of an email hoax, claiming to be the 1997 commencement address of Kurt Vonnegut to MIT grads.

Here is the link to the song:

The Sunscreen Song