By Yawsef Beğtaş President of the Syriac Language-Culture and Literature Association
The presence of these virtues which form the basis of moral purity and introduce moral consistency signifies progress / improvement: They facilitate life. They allow one to breathe. They let the soul flourish. Their absence spells regression / negative placidity: Life gets more difficult. Oxygen is poisoned. Relationships are ruined. Human dignity is injured. Sincerity is mutilated. Honesty is made to suffer.
Though there is an invisible hierarchy in their nuances, each has a different and unique meaning. They complete one another with their homogeneous meanings. They empower our inner strength with physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional contributions.
In terms of their attributes, these virtues point to a high level of maturity and a sophisticated spirit that appears in human actions. While ensuring that mutual relationships in common / social life keep going in the right direction, they supply people with quality fuel on their journey of self-discovery and self-control, which is the creational purpose of humans, just like humility.
Due to their vital importance, author Norman Cousins (1915-1990) writes that, “The peak of civilization is not measured by art, but by people’s ability to show one another outstanding politeness.”
These three attributes / temperaments / virtues which exist in human nature occupy an esteemed position in basic rules of etiquette. However, the person’s nature atrophies because of fixed opinions, stereotypes, prejudices, misunderstandings, negative conditioning, negative thoughts, undercurrent attitudes, ulterior motives, comparisons, scorn, hate, grudges, envy, intolerance, delusions, obsessions, passions, cravings, conceit, pride, masks, ignorance, irritability, indignation, bigotry, caprices, complexes, and being ruled over by one’s possessions -all these things which one gradually adopts in the social reality. The person’s nature is smudged. It deteriorates.
As is known, politeness is a temperament / virtue that can be learned. Politeness is a vital attitude that must always be present in the background of every relationship type so that communication may turn into interaction. Politeness is a rule of etiquette expected under every circumstance, always, and from everyone for healthy and fruitful communication / interaction. We cannot do without it.
Politeness means courtesy, delicacy, manners, caring. Its adjectival form is Polite.
In Syriac, conveying Ancient Bethnahrin’s (Mesopotamia) productive spirit to present day, polite is “radhyo/ܪܰܕܝܳܐ.” Politeness is “radyutho/ܪܰܕܝܘܼܬܐ.”
Kindness means affability, beauty, delicacy, elegance. It means pleasant appearance in face and attitude, as well as harmony in actions. Its adjectival form is Kind.
In Syriac, kind is “rmiso/ܪܡܺܝܼܣܳܐ.” Kindness is “rmisutho/ܪܡܺܝܼܣܘܼܬܐ.”
Like politeness / radhyutho, although more difficult, kindness / rmisutho is a virtue / characteristic / attribute that can be acquired at a later time, according to cultural level.
The concept of purity means a polite and soft attitude that includes compassion. It means pureness, chastity, inner purity, moral purity, delicacy, honorability. Its adjectival form is Pure.
In Syriac, pure is “zahyo/ܙܰܗܝܐ.” Purity is “zahyutho/ܙܰܗܝܘܼܬܐ .”
As you can guess, purity / zahyutho is not a virtue that is easy to obtain. It requires character learning and personal development. It concerns morals and values more than it does culture. It is a character trait that is to a greater extent obtained through environmental influences.
Nobel prize winning author Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) says on this subject that “It does not matter how we feel or what we know; our potential talents or abilities do not matter. The actions that bring them to life are all that matters. Many of us know such concepts as dedication, courage, love; but in truth, to know is to do. Through action, comprehension becomes wisdom; action turns knowledge into wisdom. You cannot cross to the other bank by staring at the water.”
Famous scientist and physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) expresses the following opinion: “Your true value is determined by your feelings toward others, your work, your actions, and your good deeds.”
On our journeys of self-knowledge and discovery where we are responsible for our intentions / thoughts / words / actions, the secret is to balance the material and spiritual; to proceed on the journey with flexibility and orientation, as well as politeness, kindness, and purity. The secret is to remain in a state of positive flux.
In that case, we should grow our spirit instead of ourself. We should heighten our discernment instead of our status. We should boost our awareness instead of our ego. We should focus on our responsibility instead of ourself. We should grow in understanding instead of pride. We should aggrandize our love instead of ourself. We should enhance our humaneness instead of ourself. We should treasure our values instead of ourself. We should promote altruism instead of ourself. We should nurture the child within us instead of ourself. When we do these, we will grow, prosper, thrive… And we will indulge in the pleasures of such virtues as “politeness, kindness, purity!”
With their transforming power, these virtues are like a comfortable and trustworthy life insurance policy in a world of adversity and contradiction. In that case, may “politeness, kindness, and purity,” the virtues which cultivate awareness, love, respect, sincerity, responsibility, loyalty, peace, compassion, and serenity, stick with us during our evaluation of what’s valuable in life. May they be our unwavering companions in every circumstance and in all cases for a healthy and fulfilling life.
“The person knows with the mind, finds with the heart, becomes through the spirit.”
I salute all polite, kind, and pure people!
Yawsef Beğtaş is President of the Syriac Language-Culture and Literature Association in Merdo (Mardin) – Süryani Dili-Kültürü ve Edebiyat Derneği.
The Syriac Language, Culture and Literature Association – Mardin was founded to assist activity toward the protection of the Syriac language, Syriac culture, Syriac literature and art as one of the ancient elements of the material and spiritual heritage of the geography and of Turkey, and to keep it alive; to secure national and international recognition of Syriac and the special values of its culture; to work for the development, updating, enrichment, spread, research, and introductions to the public; and for transfer and translation of works written in Syriac (including Eastern-Western dialect, and other local dialects) into other languages.
For more writings by Yawsef Beğtaş you can visit his website Karyo Hliso