Conscience and Character Build Solid Communities

Conscience and Character

Conscience and character go hand-in-hand. As I mention in all my books, character is the moral, ethical aspect of our personalities. And a solid moral foundation requires a sound conscience. Not just any conscience, mind you, but a well-formed conscience. A conscience deeply rooted in values years of experience have proved essential to wholesome character development.

In Essentials for the Journey, I expand upon the 10 Commandments of Character I first introduced in my book Character Disturbance. My work with character-impaired individuals taught me that negative attitudes toward these crucial principles underlied their dysfunction. It also taught me that character is largely a matter of the heart, where one’s deepest sentiments toward these principles reside.

Being who we are, we human beings have alway had our challenges forging wholesome conscience and character. We’re not born wholesome or enlightened. If we were, this world would automatically be a paradise. Healthy socialization and character development is a process. However, it’s a process that requires a common reverence for and endorsement and support of the principles and values that inspire character.

Wholesome Communities Large and Small

Human beings are inherently social creatures. We live in community. Family is community at the micro level. Then there are our neighborhoods, cities and towns, our countries, and the world. But no matter the level of societal organization, conscience and character are the lynchpin. The character of any community necessarily reflects the collective character of its constituents. Accordingly, the better the conscience and character of a community’s (large or small) members, the stronger and more wholesome the community. It’s that simple. And it’s that fundamental.

Toward a Truly “Great Society”

Politicians past have talked about forging a “great society.” However, a society can only be as genuinely great as its inhabitants make it.

Many years ago I came to appreciate some provocative sentiments expressed by several of America’s most influential founders. These folks envisioned a government that would afford its citizens unprecedented freedom. However, they also understood what would be essential to such a government working: character. The concept was as radical as it was straightforward. Give people already possessing a solid internal moral compass maximum freedom of expression, they surmised, and individual and collective prosperity would naturally follow. A truly great society! But in the absence of character at the individual level, government would experience pressure to be more intrusive, oppressive, and micro-managerial.

Freedom always comes at a price – both the price those defending it have often had to pay, and the price all of us have to be willing to pay with respect to assuming our responsibilities. And presently, the freedom we enjoy is arguably at the greatest risk it’s ever been. That’s because so many of us are truly out of control. Folks who are voluntarily and properly self-controlled don’t need government or anyone else trying to manage them. And when folks are not of sound conscience and character, no amount of externally attempted control can make a society safe or prosperous. (See also: Freedom and Character Interdependence.)

An Independence Day Wish

My hope for the upcoming annual celebration of American independence is that we reclaim what can truly make us great. We’ve had periods of some genuine greatness before. But we’ve had periods of shame, too – periods where we largely betrayed the values we professed. What has always made the difference is the collective character of our people. A populace that not only understood but also truly revered and did their best to live up to the principles and values capable of begetting societal greatness. That’s the sentiment I hope you’ll glean listening to any of the versions of “America, My Home!.” The realizations I have mentioned above inspired it. Please take the time to visit the song’s page here on the blog. I pray you’ll also be duly inspired.


One thought on “Conscience and Character Build Solid Communities

  1. For those folks living in the U.S., please look up Project 2025. It’s important that we inform ourselves to make educated decisions, not emotional ones.

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