Pundits would have us think that what Martin Luther King, Jr. and Glen Beck spoke about are fundamentally different: Traditional values vs, "I Have a Dream." I think there are virtues, core ethical principals
which are more universal and I think that perhaps, ascribing to these, we can begin to speak the same language of virtues and principals. Now I do not think that Glen Beck has the stature or place in our national voice or history, but his rally yesterday to restore traditional valuees to the American lexicon and into our political debate is important. Dr. King, in his historic "I Have a Dream" speach asked the nation to move towards and adopt more universal principles.
I submit that if we consider some "core ethical principles" which can help us begin to speak a common language and can provide us with a common way of evaluating ourselves, those leaders in our political debate and how we want to govern ourselves and be governed.
First, these ideas are not my own, or original. I've borrow from the readings and tought of Dr. Thomas Lickona, who heads the Center for the 4th and 5th R's at the State University at Cortland, in Cortland, New York.
Let's begin with two quotes from Dr. King.
“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
"I have a dream today, that one day, my four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Wonderful words, but what exactly, is this “content” he is speaking about? Just what is the content of our character?
And to quote Glen Beck, "America today begins to turn back to God, For too long this country has wandered in darkness."
King's speech in 1963 was the realying point for the civil rights movement. I'm not sure Beck's rally has the same 'gravitas', but never the less, he is asking us to consider values in our lives and in our body politic.
So whose values should we ascribe to? I submit that there are core ethical principles that are beyond religious or political boundaries. Below are ten for you and in particular our elected representative to consider. I don't think these tell the whole story and you may add your own. Please do.
These are 10 virtues or principals among many that you may find of value.
Wisdom-good judgment, which enables us to make reasoned decisions, good for ourselves and for others.
Justice-means respecting the rights of all people.
Fortitude-enables us to do what is right in the face of difficulty
Self-Control-the ability to govern ourselves.
Love-love goes beyond justice and fairness, it’s essence is living for the sake of others.
Positive Attitude-our attitude is something we choose.
Hard Work-without this, nothing meaningful in life is achieved.
Integrity-adhering to moral principles. Fundamentally, it is telling the truth to oneself.
Gratitude-like love and a positive attitude, being grateful is not a feeling, but an act of the will.
Humility-the ability to be aware of our imperfections allows us to grow, improve and mature.
These virtues or principals can help us define 'the content of our character' and the traditional values that as a nation we consider. If we evaluate ourselves and aspire to these ourselves, work to give our own children these and elect leaders who share these virtues, I think our nation can begin to address the many problems and issues we face.
I don't see these replacing religous teachings or practice,nor do I think the schism in our political debate will end here. What I would like us to consider is that these virtues are common and universal enough to provide a common language and sense of purpose.
So ethical virtues are essential to our nation. The other two principals, which I will begin addressing our effective and efficient government and processes. These may not be as universal and easy, but I'll do my best.
Robert L. Sayre