All students will achieve their maximum potential by becoming responsible, productive citizens and life-long learners.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

We Need Character

I decided to write this post as I review data, prepare materials, and consider programs for another school year.  Those of you who know me understand my stance on ethics and character and therefore the main thrust here.  Those of you who don’t…well, I hope you enjoy.

I am confronted on a regular basis with bullying and behavioral issues that ultimately stem from two issues:

1.      Individuals’ inability to take responsibility for the consequences (both good and bad) of their actions.
2.      A basic misunderstanding of the premise stating if you want to be better; do it by making yourself better and not dragging someone else down to just feel better.  Don’t just look good, be good.

Many people ask:
Why do we have so much bullying?
Why do we have an increasing amount of behavioral issues?

In my opinion the answer is easy…as a society, we are not teaching character in a clear, non-negotiable manner.  Instead we are focusing on moral relativism and overprotecting our youth from their shortcomings.  How are we expected to grow from our mistakes, learn right from wrong, and lead successful lives if we experience no hardship and lack the ability to find our moral center?

We have problems because we have not learned how to properly deal with them.

To be successful in this character (or lack thereof) issue, we must all admit to the problem, acknowledge its existence, and address it rather than placing blame at the feet of parents, media, school, or politicians.

We arrived in this situation by slow, deliberate, small steps that eroded the character we knew through the generations.  This didn’t jump up on us, rather; it was a gradual process in which small transgressions led to larger ones.  Creating grey areas out of ethics, morals, and character is like dancing with the devil:  You don’t change him.  He changes you.

The only way to rectify this situation is through the same way we got here; one step at a time.  Only these steps are more difficult because they are neither easy nor comfortable and require, at times, some personal suffering.  That is why we must practice and model what I call; being purposeful, acting with integrity, and building your character.

Being purposeful:
No goal was ever attained without purposeful movement towards it.  Make decisions based on where you want to be; not where you are or have been.  This is only possible by being present in everyday decisions.  You must weigh how each action fits into your larger plan.  Holding this knowledge close will help you respond instead of react to any situation.

Acting with integrity:
Do what is right, the right way, simply because it is right.  You are part of a larger organism called the human race.  Help others when needed, be gracious and walk the talk.  You never know the struggles the other person is going through.  Ignore groupthink and perceptions that are not borne of your own experience.  Create your personal set of values and ethics and always make decisions and act according to them.  In the end, all you have control over is your values.

Building character
Continue to succeed through the failures you will surely encounter.  Thrive in the face of hardship because that is the only thing standing between you and success. Accept yourself as you are.  Determine who you want to be.  Realize that goal no matter the hardship.  Sometimes you will be alone…everyone needs support to make the road easier, but there will be times you must walk alone to get what you want.  If building and maintaining a strong character were easy, we would not have many of the problems we do today.

My message about purposefully building character rooted in strong ethics and integrity…
Remember that we are unique individuals who are solely responsible for increasing our own value.  We must not be afraid to improve when others around us do not. All fear is based on stress created by indecision and uncertainty.  We must…be certain…be determined…be purposeful.

Our goal, our personal greatness lies on the other side of all our doubts and fears…ignore personal gratification and settle only for personal growth.  Not matter the outcome; continue to push forward.  I failed is 100 times better than I might have…

Be tough, be proud, and stand out. 

How do we fix these issues?

By building character through the reinforcement and modeling of integrity, accepting responsibility, rejecting moral relativism, and being better rather than just looking better.

We do this one person at a time…starting with ourselves rather than excuses.