Did you know that the youth is imprudent? It is me, your computer, telling you. But I want to tell you with prudence. My intention is not to bother you, but to invite you to examine whether or not I am right, in order for you to learn as a consequence. You provide me with my reasons behind this affirmation, seeing that you are impetuous, thoughtless, unconscious, reckless, extreme, spontaneous, fickle, and precipitated. Can you admit to this? Do not tell me you cannot.
Therefore, a person acting on these impulses must usually commit much imprudence.
With this I do not intend to limit in the least bit your right to be young. My wish is to help you become prudent even if you are young, as well as help you learn how to balance between extremes.
I say “between extremes”, because every virtue has an exact middle point between not reaching it and passing it. If one does not reach this precise point, or passes it, virtue stops being virtue. This is precisely what prudence encompasses: staying on the exact middle balance. That is why prudence is also known as the “regulator of other virtues”.
What implies being prudent?
A person who is prudent is someone who, at work and in relations with others, is informed through straightforward and genuine criteria about what should be done; a prudent person reflects before taking a decision on the favorable and unfavorable consequences of one’s actions in relation to others, and then act or not depending on what was best to decide.
A prudent person is someone that before doing something, and keeping in mind the straightforward and genuine criteria collected, measures the consequences that can follow the action taken, and then it is when they decide or not, to act in one way or another.
Words worth emphasizing:
- Before acting.
- Decide whether to act or not.
Prudence mainly relates to future events. It invites us to look away, to foresee the consequences. It is therefore necessary to know, think and judge reality and circumstances "before" deciding to do or say something.
And to judge reality, you have to have benchmarks against which to measure it. In a trial, for example, the behavior of a person can be measured against laws. The law, in this case, is a benchmark or criterion by which to judge a certain conduct.
In prudence these criteria can be the following: the values proposed in a program, basic laws, respect towards others, etc.
In light of these criteria, favorable and unfavorable consequences can be reflected upon and measured regarding oneself and others.
After having reflected, a prudent person decides to act and how, or decides not to act. Prudence always dictates a decision that must be taken.
If you are responsible, you will be prudent.
All of this may seem to you a bit complicated. In ordinary life, prudence is a synonym to “common sense”. Common sense implies having a reflective spirit, education, respect and love towards others.
There will be cases when prudence recommends you to take time, think, and consult before making a decision.
Here are a few guidelines of conduct:
* At your age, obedience will ensure prudence.
* You will be wise if you study every day. You will not be, if you only study just the day before exams.
* Seek advice when you have perplexities.
* Try to acquire criteria that will help you judge reality with critical eyes.
* Take up a critical attitude towards events, opinions, political realities, ideologies, advertising, what is in fashion, television programs, books, newspapers, etc.
* Do not decide, as a criterion of prudence, on the most pleasant or comfortable, or useful, or easy option. The easy way out is not always the most prudent way.
* After your imprudence, the correct thing to do is to recognize and correct them as fast as possible.
Original text of Don Samuel Valero.
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