The CUNY Ethics and Morality Essay Contest is funded by an endowment gift of $100,000 to the City University of New York by Dr. K. York Chynn and his wife Noelle Chynn. This annual award is intended to promote and stimulate thinking by college students at CUNY about the topic of ethics, morality, and virtuous behavior in their lives. More than ever, these issues arise not only in the personal relationships of individuals and family and friends, but also in the context of corporate, government, and social responsibility, whether it is about treating others fairly and honestly, or food safety.
The Asian American / Asian Research Institute awarded CUNY Baccalaureate student Petrilia Fisher first runner up for her essay on this year’s theme: virtue.
Regardless of where one lives, virtues form the moral foundation of one’s life. Throughout history, moral philosophers in all cultures have striven to answer the question of “What characteristics or virtues distinguish the moral man from the immoral one?” In ancient Greek times, the Four Cardinal Virtues were:
There were additionally Three Theological Virtues:
Together, these comprised the Seven Virtues.
At about the same time in ancient China, Confucius formulated what he called the Five Constant Virtues:
Ren (Benevolence, Love)
Li (Propriety, Loyalty, Filial Piety, Chastity, Respect)
Xin (Integrity, Honesty, Fidelity)
In today’s modern society however, virtues have slowly begun to lose their importance, or are often forgotten in the daily hustle of people’s daily lives. For example in China, officials recently enacted a new law to foster filial piety among its citizens by compelling adult children to visit their aging parents. Recognizing the importance of virtues in our lives, will lead to better communication, understanding, and acceptance between us and our fellow man.
For your essay, please select one Virtue from the list above to discuss in detail. In discussing the Virtue you have selected, please incorporate all of the following points in your essay:
Tell us about your own experience in practicing the Virtue you have chosen to write about and what personal reward or satisfaction have you gained from it.
Why did you think the Virtue that you chose was an important one to practice in your life?
What obstacles did you encounter in practicing this particular Virtue and how did you, or do you, still strive to overcome the difficulties?