Every morning, I sit down with my cup of coffee and watch the morning news. My main priority is getting a weather report, but the headlines of the day interest me as well. Anyone who watches the news knows that these days there seems to be a lot more violence, dishonesty, and immorality in the world. I can’t help but think back to television shows like Leave It to Beaver, and Little House on the Prairie, with their wholesome little worlds, and wonder why we all can’t be a better society. Is it really so hard to be decent human beings?
As if the news isn’t revealing enough, the endless number of reality shows with people doing anything they can to get ahead, disturbs me, and these shows have a huge following of dedicated viewers. It seems like money, fame, and power are all that people want. What ever happened to having good character? Have we all just given up on the teachings passed down through generations?
In the past, we would turn to religious teaching to guide us. Christianity’s Ten Commandments lays out a set of rules that God wants us to live by. Even if you are not religious, many of them are character trait related, like do not lie, honor your mother and father, do not steal, and do not covet what others have.
The Boy Scouts of America has their Scout Law, which states: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent; all good aspects to live by.
Other organizations strive to improve the character of our youth, like Character Counts.org. This youth development strategy utilizes a framework called The Six Pillars of Character, which include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. All of these seem like basic values.
I am by no means the perfect example of character, but I try to live by these values to the best of my ability, and to teach my own children to do so. Do I see all of these values displayed by the leaders of the world, or even by the candidates running for our own presidency; unfortunately no, but some have promise. I can only sit and listen to what they say, and research their lives for glimpses of good character.
In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Now the Bible tells us not to judge; in Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV) it states, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” so we should be careful about criticizing people. It is difficult not to have opinions or judge people, but a person’s character will tell you more about them then their job, the clothes they wear, or their ability to sing. If we are to survive in this world, perhaps we should all strive to obtain good character and surround ourselves with others of the same.