Last Tues. and Wed., Father Matthew Spencer, Director of Communications for the Oblates of St. Joseph, delivered a talk on how to communicate the benefits of virtues to the cyber powered kid at St. Joseph Marello Catholic Church in Granite Bay. “Most people think of virtue as a simple contrast between good and bad,” he said, “Rather it helps to think of virtue as being the center point; it is the mean between two extremes, which is good.” And so it is with cyber connectivity, that finding a balanced of use that respects the important relationships in life is the greatest cyber safety challenge because the technology is very seductive and is easy to abuse.
When the cyber social realm becomes a single point of reference for life, there is even greater age-old confusion between knowledge and wisdom. Knowing something and knowing what to do with knowledge are two very different matters. Wisdom, which comes from the heart of God (James 1:5), is the capacity of an individual to lead a life worth living by knowing how and choosing to do good in any circumstance, and thereby minimize the negative consequences of knowing too much for your own good.
A child’s first exposure to sex as a pornographic experience, for example, can result in a perception that human sexuality is exploitative and yet call it love. Such a notion has the potential to infect an individual’s capacity make love and nurture a family with a future spouse. As Benjamin Hoff states in The Tao of Pooh (1982), “Wisdom cares, knowledge doesn’t care.”
According to Father Matthew, you cannot teach virtue, i.e., choosing to do good in all circumstances or seeking the balanced response between two extremes. One example he offers is the virtue of courage being in the center of a spectrum of response between two extremes: cowardice and rashness. “The children learn from your example and by doing,” he said. “When parents’ use of technology is guided by prudence, striking a balance, then the children will be more likely to follow your example.”