Self-affirming and self-reliant

“A healthy six is self-affirming and self-reliant” These are the words that greeted me this morning in my inbox. I subscribe to Enneagram thought of the day- at the recommendation of a facebook group for ministers. The stressors of the pandemic and other shifts and transformations and my life have made this a challenge, indeed. Healthy and self reliant?

The Enneagram is one measure of personality that is popular in career coaching and ministerial circles, because it provides one with a blueprint of the ways you move in the world and how your thinking and knowing may interact with others. But there is another matrix that I am musing on now, particularly in the area of virtue.

Self-reliance is one of the Norse nine virtues. I have come across them in my in my long years of exploration of earth-centered neo-paganism. I am not certain who authored them, but I suspect they are a modern re framing of the sagas and the lore. To remind myself, of them, I even put a print out on the wall.

There might be an overlap between individualism and self-reliance. Individualism taken to extremes is manifesting right now among many many who feel that taking precautions against the COVID-19 is an infringement on their rights. Ignoring responsibilities towards others, including, one imagines, their loved ones. Perhaps, tragically a few of these people who ignore scientific advice for one reason or another then, might, become reliant on our medical system to pull them out of it- both the patchwork US medical insurance system-and yes, its unequal benefits to the poor and to those with marginalized identities-and the human beings trained to ready to deliver care.

A self-reliant person may take their individualism to such an extreme, or they can define self-reliance another way- I will center responsibility in my self-reliance, and I will take as much care as I can to either obtain what is necessary for my survival, thus insuring other’s survival.

The other virtues-courage, truth, honor, discipline, discipline, hospitality, and industriousness-of all these, truth and hospitality have the most to reach us in this imagined scenario. Because they interweave and intersect.

May all be safe, reliant, and industrious, and at the same time, cultivate the virtue of loving interdependence and care for one another.

About Valerie Freseman

Valerie Freseman is a Unitarian Universalist minister and a 2014 graduate of Union Theological Seminary. She completed a chaplain residency at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, CT, and served as the first year-long Killam Ministerial intern at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland. She is passionate about spinning the inter-dependent web, creating a more just world, and applying the arts to faith.  She is also becoming increasingly well-known for her sock collection.
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