Vision is the third virtue in the first “triad” of ADF’s Nine Virtues, and together with Wisdom and Piety, is associated with the “priestly” function of Indo-European cultures, as defined by Georges Dumezil. ADF defines vision as “The ability to broaden one’s perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present and future”.
The Oxford Dictionary for Students defines it as both “the ability to see” and “the ability to think about the future with imagination and wisdom”.
In the dictionary definition, vision is linked with wisdom, together providing the ability to “see” into the future by imagining possibilities and evaluating likely consequences of our actions. This forward-planning is a feature humans share with many species of mammals, and most birds as well, suggesting that looking ahead in time was an evolutionary adaptation that served our ancestors well.
As well as predicting future effects of past and present causes, vision means being able to hold many possible futures in one’s mind, and decide how to act now to achieve the desired one. Gandhi’s quote, “be the change you wish to see in the world” relates to living with vision.
The ADF definition mentions “our place/role in the cosmos” as central to vision. Understanding where we came from, and where we fit in the order of nature, allows us to make decisions based in reality. Science is the greatest toolkit humanity has created to reveal our place in the cosmos, and it is both humbling and uplifting to consider our evolutionary heritage or the “pale blue dot” that is our Earth, one speck amongst billions.
The scientific vision of Charles Darwin, or Carl Sagan, illustrates another facet of this virtue: the ability to understand the universe and see things from a wider perspective than that of our own lives.
To be “visionary” is to understand the lessons of the past and see the dynamics of cause and effect in the present, in order to bring about an imagined future, and is a virtue that has a lot of practical relevance to everyone in daily life.
ADF, Our Own Druidry. ADF Publishing, 2009
Oxford English Dictionary for Students. Oxford University Press, 2006
Michael J. Dangler, The ADF Dedicant Path through the Wheel of the Year. Garanus, 2010