Culture and Character
Cultural values, norms, and practices heavily influence character formation. However, the opposite is also true. The way most folks are in character largely shapes and defines cultural norms. Culture and character have an intertwined and interdependent relationship. Moreover, they impact each other in some very dynamic ways.
Most traditional psychology paradigms developed in the Victorian era. The cultural climate of that time was horrendously repressive. Folks were generally well-behaved and well-mannered alright. But many were also nervous wrecks. Sadly, they sometimes even made themselves sick from excessive fear, guilt, and shame. In those times, folks could easily feel awful for simply being human.
We live in dramatically different times. Our cultural climate bears little resemblance to that of the Victorian era. Attitudes of entitlement, self-indulgence, and relativism permeate modern culture. These attitudes have become the new norm. Moreover, many traditionally character-shaping institutions have undergone dramatic changes. And as a result, folks have a harder time forging characters of integrity. Understandably, more character-impaired individuals now populate the culture. And they have “enabled” the erosion of principles once widely revered and promoted.
The Culture of Egocentrism and Entitlement
Too many folks grow up in a “me”- centered universe. So, they find it all-too-easy to think the world revolves around them. Moreover, they receive constant messages of entitlement. So, they find it hard to develop a healthy sense of obligation. This leads to unhealthy levels of self-focus and self-indulgence. And that’s how a culture of egocentrism and entitlement becomes entrenched.
Researchers are now telling us what our grandparents already knew. The antidote to entitlement is gratitude. Experience has taught me this, too. Grateful individuals naturally develop a sense of indebtedness. Moreover, folks who feel indebted more easily develop a sense of obligation. Such folks appreciate what they’ve been given in life. What’s more, they feel obligated to give something back. Grateful givers don’t wallow in a me-centered, entitled mindset. They concern themselves with others. They work to make a difference. Accordingly, they change culture for the better. They help make the world a better place.
I’ll be saying more about culture and character in the weeks to come. In addition, I’ll be talking more about gratitude. Gratitude can overcome attitudes of entitlement. And it can counter the character-impairing aspects of the current cultural climate.
Character Matters will again air live Sunday, Sept. 17 at 7 pm EDT. Therefore, I can take calls at (501) 258-8326.