A while back I wrote a post on Integrity. I have met men and women of great integrity and character, such as my husband, my in-laws and many friends. Recently I was watching Wives and Daughters, a movie based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell.
In the movie a neighbor exclaims, “Molly has lost her character!” I wondered what that meant exactly. Her reputation? What she no longer a women of great integrity? What does it mean to lose ones character? Well, thankfully Molly, the heroine had not lost her character but it made me ponder, just what is good character?
In the public eye I can easily think of politicians who have lost their character and integrity. Richard Nixon lied to the nation about Watergate. Bill Clinton cheated on his wife and lied to the nation about it. And there are many others. Recently Mylie Cyrus performed in a crude way on public television. Her character was damaged. We read about these people and often we become angry, feel sad and wonder, what made them act in such a horrid manner.
Respect is often lost for good but sometimes it returns after they have proven that they aren’t as lost as we initially thought. We hope they have learned from their mistakes.
There are a few people that history shares with us – of people of high character – Abraham Lincoln, Golda Meir, Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela come to mind as men and women of great character. We share stories about these people with our children. We hope teachers share the truth about them in the classrooms. We want our children to learn from them.
So, just what is a person’s character? It is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to that individual. If a person has a reputation for lying, then their character is in question. If a person cheats on their spouse, their character is in question. We know these individuals are not trustworthy. If a person volunteers at the local food pantry or hospice we feel they must have good character. They put others before themselves.
When we meet someone, their character and integrity come in to question instinctively. We wonder, what are they truly like?
When a person manipulates another person unscrupulously for their own gain, we question their motives and they become untrustworthy. We know that if they are willing to manipulate for their own gain, then the don’t care for the feelings of others. They become selfish in our eyes. We cannot trust them.
It is so important in our society to try and raise our children to have strong moral character and integrity. They go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.
As I stated in my first post, integrity and good moral character don’t have a religious, ethnic or political basis. Integrity and good moral character are a lifestyle that every human being should strive for.
We need to teach our children manners and politeness. We need to teach them to put the feelings of others before their own. They need to see us reach out to others with compassion and kindness. We need to model to our children what is right and good and honorable. We need to teach our children to appreciate and respect the small things in life, so when they are older they will appreciate the larger things in life. We need to teach our children to serve others, to open doors for the elderly and do random and un-random acts of kindness. We need to teach them that gossiping is wrong and that a kind word should be shared. We need to teach them how to be angry – meaning how to control their anger and to be angry at things that are unjust.
If we teach (and many more) these simple moral values with integrity and good character then we won’t have to worry about our children when they grow older. We can trust that when they go out into the world that they won’t turn into bulldozers:
What’s a bulldozer? A person who will roll over another person or persons to get their own way. A person who doesn’t care about the feelings of others as long as they get what they want. A person who will lie, cheat, manipulate, steal, gossip to get what they want. A person who doesn’t really care about others. A person with a great lack of or no integrity and bad character. A very sad human being. And there are many out there.
Raise your children by example – Be a man or woman of integrity and great character. Be the kind of person you want your children to be as adults… Loving, kind, caring, compassionate, patient, giving, truthful, trustworthy… You may have to look in the mirror and ask yourself a few hard questions.
Do I lie over silly things? If so, I need to change that fault within me. I’m a praying person so I go to my God to help me. if you aren’t a praying person than go to someone who you can be accountable to, to make the right choices.
It doesn’t hurt to ask a person who you love and trust what faults they see in you that you may need to change. Do you manipulate to get your own way at times? Stop it! Make yourself accountable to someone who knows you.
Remember, your children are WATCHING YOU! They are listening to you. They are emulating what you do! If they hear you saying bad things about the neighbor across the street, what are you teaching them? Seriously people! Think before you act and speak.
Can you tell I am preaching to the choir of one? Myself.
I have raised four children and thankfully they have all turned out fantastic and I have to give much of the credit to my husband who is a wonderful man of integrity and character. I have learned so much from him and he’s not afraid to correct me in love and kindness when I slip up. Now I want to be a great example for my grandchildren.
With Christmas and the new year right around the corner taking a deep look into our hearts is a pretty good idea.
If you have anything to share about character and integrity, I’d love to hear your comments.
Here is a wonderful link to get you started in leading yourself, your friends, your children to a life of integrity and character —-
Merry Christmas and Have a Wonderful Day!