By Dr. William Campbell, Kaplan University, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
All rational people pursue the concept of success, safety, and security. Many believe it to be perhaps one of the most substantive goals a person or community may have. In order to have success one must have a safe and secure environment that allows opportunity for fertile thought to grow. It is a significant premise for success. Fertile thought gives birth to innovation. Such a goal is not achieved by chance. One should understand the elements necessary to encourage such thought. Recognizing the value would greatly benefit today’s society. Such threads of behavior not only show respect for the concept, but further the appreciation for building the content of our character. No other individual demographic element should be recognized as holding such a high place as the value of the content of our character. Dr. Martin Luther King emphasized the importance of the content of our character in his “I Have a Dream” speech (Rose, 2010). The dream was to set forth the outline for common respect for all people and furthered the movement of equality for the United States. Our ethical and moral code helps to shape the content of our character. Such emphasis on character serves as the ethical foundational building blocks of our institution and communities. Our character defines who we are. It sets the moral compass and builds the ethical stage that will allow each of us to play our part. It serves to guide us in the form of leadership we accept and the methods we will implement to facilitate the governance of our society. The opinion presented will seek to reflect on the importance of developing our own moral character. It will support the concept of developing a culture that emphasizes the content of character for our society.
Reducing Violence in our Community by Recognizing Content of Character
The content of our character is reflected in our behavior. It helps us to determine the next steps we will take as individuals. It guides us in the assistance we provide to our neighbors and those in need. It applies to the direct actions we take as administrators. It provides the climate for how we serve our constituents, or actions we take that impact the stakeholders that rely on our decisions (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). We recognize that all citizens in our community may be different. We have learned to value our diversity, but we must also be cognizant of the concept of unity. Such unity helps us to achieve our common goals.
We take strength in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King who emphasized the need to recognize content of character over our differences. We learn to overcome our differences together and unite behind the common brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind. We learn that by recognizing the issues that must be achieved and putting aside the differences that set us apart, we can become a positive, decisive source for meaningful change in our society. This is not to suggest that a competitive spirit is to be dismissed. For instance, the competitive spirit that exists between sports teams within communities has created rivalries for challenge and excitement. Often, it has been the very sport team that has brought together the diverse members of the community. The priority and common thread of unity was winning the game. Communities have reported reduced crime rates in inner cities where sports facilities were supported. This author has interviewed members of battlefield units engaged in deployment on battlefields. Soldiers responded that they were not concerned with the diversity of the comrades-in-arms and the only issue of concern was the content of their character and their ability to perform critical tasks. The content of our character is reflected in our behavior.
Many believe that each person possesses character traits which dictate the directions of their actions. Many subscribe to the belief that members possessing positive solid character serve to build a productive society. They believe that good governance would emphasize pursuing the correct moral action in any given situation. They would take the high ground over achieving a simple win and sacrificing the values that might contribute to the cohesive development of our community as a whole (Upton, 2009).
History has shown that societies where leadership has emphasized cultural differences between populations without recognizing a common bond, thread of unity, and respect have bred intolerance, hostility, and anger. This has occurred throughout history. Such actions not only occurred in Germany and throughout Europe, but also in the Balkans, Africa, Asia and many other parts of the world. It is important to understand the commonalities that breed hostility (Kazdin, 2011) which have resulted in wars and genocides throughout history. In many cases, the very differences that were emphasized among populations had resulted in the conflict.
The emphasis on difference has often impacted cultures that lived and worked together peacefully and productively for decades. Members of the community should be shown that they are part of a greater family, that all members of the community are part of that family, and that all may contribute to the positive purpose of the community. Under certain circumstances, economic concerns and mental health may take a toll on the community. Based on my experience, having served in many different nations and working with many cultures, changing hearts and minds will be instrumental to move from a segmented society to one of unity, thereby reducing violence and serving to bring the community together as a whole.
Rose, C. (2010). King's dream: The legacy of martin luther king's "I have a dream" speech. History, 38(4), 126-127. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/750430101?accountid=35812
Chun, R. (2005). Ethical character and virtue of organizations: An empirical assessment and strategic implications. Journal of Business Ethics, 57(3), 269-284.
Kazdin, A. E. (2011). Conceptualizing the challenge of reducing interpersonal violence. Psychology of Violence, 1(3), 166-187.
Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(5), 603-619.
Upton, C. L. (2009). The structure of character. The Journal of Ethics, 13(2-3), 175-193.