In my previous post I talked about how it is about time we started building our character, making it strong and stepping into that truth even when it’s hard. Before we can do that however, we need to understand what the basis for good character is. Gosh but simply saying good or strong character always makes it sound so simple and easy. I really don’t know that it is, but it is fairly simple to understand in theory!
Foundations, traits…call it whatever you want; what makes us look to a person and say they have a strong character? What makes us strive to emulate them, when we want to have or develop good character in ourselves or our children?
There is a fair amount of research that has been done to answer this question. There is (sorry) no definitive definition. However, there are some things that we generally do agree on. I think it’s worth exploring and seeing how this would fit in with my (and your) life. After much reading and research this is what I came up with as basic traits for strong character.
(This post is going to inform is a very simplified way what I think are the foundations. I am then going to round it up at the end with a question for YOU!)
1. Being a good Neighbour - being informed about what is happening and taking part in the world around you. It also is where I’d throw in the idea of taking care of the environment. These people obey sensible rules and co-operate with other people. Citizenship is about making the world around us better for everyone.
2. Fairness – Treating all people fairly, playing by the rules. I think the most important part of fairness is to have an open mind; even when you disagree.
3. Personal Accountability - I’m talking about personal responsiblity here folks. Being accountable for your own actions! So this means you do what you say you are going to do, you think before you act. Also falling under this pillar is self-control and self-discipline. Have the courage to do the right thing, every time.
4. Compassion – Part sympathy, part empathy…it’s showing that you care about others and how they feel.
5. Trustworthiness – Easy right? Don’t lie, cheat, steal or blame others. Do what you say you are going to do and stand by your word. I think the idea of doing the right thing even if it’s hard or no one is looking..or everyone is looking, falls into this category as well. Being loyal to your family and friends also falls under trustworthiness. We have to build the presence of integrity into our expectations of everyday life.
6. Respect - One of my favourite saying is “do unto others as you would have done to you“. The Golden Rule lies in respect. Many of us mix up respect with fear and we must understand that we earn respect through our actions. Things like good manners, accepting differences, solving problems with a win/win in mind rather than with fists blazing!
7. Self Respect - I think it is important to separate respect and self-respect in this instance. It is possible to have one without the other. Those who value themselves often do not value others and just as often, the case is the reverse. It is not only possible, but necessary to be able to hold both in your mind in order to be of good character.
When you boil it down it is my thinking that these are the foundations of good character. Seems simple doesn’t it? Obviously not so or we’d not have so many problems in the world.
I am asking you then, what do you think goes wrong so that so many people might let one or more of these pillars crumble a little (or a lot?)? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. I’ll give you mine in part three of the discussion on Character.