Why Character Matters
Training seminar attendees often ask me why character matters so much. Of course, I tell them nothing matters more. Name a problem, I explain. From gun violence, to domestic abuse, to dirty politics, to shady business practices – all our social problems ultimately trace back to character. And that’s precisely why character matters so much.
A Case of Mass Enabling
In one way or another, we’ve all helped foster character’s demise. Perhaps we didn’t mean to do so. But we’ve all inadvertently allowed character to not mean what it used to mean. This is classic enabling. And it’s often insidious how this happens. In our politics, for example, we naturally tend to concern ourselves with our pet causes or agendas. And someone who promises to advance our cause might get our vote. Once elected, they might even make good on the promise. So, we lend them our support. But in the end, it’s how they conduct themselves overall that affects the bigger picture. It’s their character that makes the difference.
Freedom and Character
To work well, freedom demands character. In the absence of character, freedom becomes license. This is a land of great liberty. But the freedoms we enjoy can be easily abused. Only character can ensure that freedom won’t be abused. No law, rule, regulation, policy, or procedure can guarantee the responsible exercise of freedom. We have millions of regulations on the books. But abuses are still everywhere. It’s not that we don’t have enough rules. What’s missing is character. Still, sadly, we keep focusing on rules. And we ignore character and what it takes to foster it.
Will Character Ever Matter Again?
Character will matter again when we as a society decide to make it matter. But to do that we have to look beyond ourselves, our pride, and our many self-serving agendas. We have to find the heart to honor and serve something much bigger. The willingness to do that – to rise above our natural selfishness – is what real integrity is all about. And in our troubled times, we need it now more than ever. That’s ultimately why character matters so much.
An Anthem for the Millennium – “America, My Home”
Every major patriotic holiday, I sound the same trumpet. Some are likely tired of that. But I’ll continue to do it. Why? Because we’ve become hideously desensitized to the most outrageous displays of poor character. Bad character has become dangerously normalized. And it’s surreptitiously killing us.
Just before the new millenium, my wife and I wrote a song about the land we love. Its message is personal. We meant it to stir hearts. And we wanted to send a particular message. The greatness of America has never rested in its military might or economic power, both of which are second to none. Rather, it’s people who honor and embrace its best ideals and live them out in their daily lives who make America great. It’s character. Want to make America great again? Do your part to be of good character and to inspire and expect decency of character in others.
Happy Independence Day! Please, don’t abuse any freedoms! And I hope you enjoy, America, My Home!. Find it also on YouTube.