BRYCE ON MORALITY
– Unidirectional teaching is one thing, but it is also important to develop a two way dialog.
This is Part 8 in my series on “Morality” as derived from my new eBook “Stand Up for MORALITY.”
In Part 7 we discussed simplifying complex moral problems and made some more observations about the properties of Morality. Here, in Part 8, we will wrap-up our series with a discussion on “Where do we go from here?”
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
There is an old maxim derived from psychology which contends, “You cannot treat a patient if he doesn’t know he is sick.” If we can admit we have a problem with morality in this country, the next concern should be how to treat it. The answer should be rather obvious, become more proactive in teaching morality. We have been reactive far too long, probably because we falsely believe someone else is going to properly teach it for us, such as the schools and the media. This “hands off” approach is probably the single biggest cause for the decline of morality in this country. Unless you are willing to do what is necessary to teach morality yourself to your offspring or subordinates, someone will invariably do it for you, and probably not to your liking.
First, when should morality be taught? The sooner, the better, particularly for impressionable youth. Lessons of “good versus bad” should be given repetitively, as well as challenging the subordinate to think for him/herself, e.g.; “Is that right or wrong? Why?” Such lessons should be applied consistently. If not, the subordinates will question its validity as it applies to them. If a person understands the cause and effect of a moral lesson, they will more likely embrace it.
Unidirectional teaching is one thing, but it is also important to develop a two way dialog, thereby allowing the teacher to understand what the pupil is thinking. For most families, the dinner table can be invaluable for discussing morality. Openly discuss difficult subjects such as sex, drugs, alcohol, crime, violence, government, politics, etc., not in a crude way, but in a calm, rational manner. Do not try to escape your responsibilities, confront them. If you do not address it now, you will have to react to it later as your offspring will learn it elsewhere. Such an open discussion is invaluable for building trust, confidence, and bonding. For parents, it is particularly useful for understanding what is going on in your offspring’s world, e.g.; what kind of friends they have and what are they saying and doing.
As we have stated, understanding the consequences of our actions and decisions is an important part of learning moral values. To this end, be sure to reward and punish fairly and consistently. Anything less, will be observed by the object of your attention.
Next, become a positive role model. This may very well mean you will personally need to “shapeth up and geteth thine act together.” This will likely involve some soul-searching. You should always be cognizant that as a parent or boss, you are the prime role model and, as such, you should lead your life the way you want your subordinates to do. If this means cleaning up your appearance, dress, speech, habits, or whatever, such is the price for teaching morality. Yes, this means sacrifice.
It also pays to routinely monitor and analyze the progress of your children or employees. This can be done simply by developing a checklist and grading the person in question. On a scale of 1 (High) to 5 (Low) consider these universally applicable attributes associated with a person’s Morality:
Adherence to rules and regulations – whether written or unwritten
Authority, respect for – respectful versus disrespectful
Compassion – Kind and caring versus vicious
Courtesy – exhibits good manners versus crude
Duty, sense of – exhibits dependability, trustworthiness and responsibility
Honesty – truthful versus habitual liar
Language – articulate versus crude
Promptness/Tardiness – always on time or is regularly late
If this sounds like an Employee Evaluation form, it essentially is. Whereas managers/employees typically review such forms jointly to guide the employee, this should be considered optional in this situation. It may be more desirable to prepare this analysis and not divulge the contents to the person as it will become a guide for you, the mentor or parent, as to what issues need to be concentrated on. Then again, openly reviewing it with the other person provides an opportunity to discuss what is right or wrong with their moral values, along with “Why” you believe this is a problem. Conducting such an analysis on a routine basis, such as annually or twice a year, makes it rather easy to plot improvements or detect problems emerging.
I have developed such a form which is included at the end of this manuscript. If desired, please use it as you see fit.
I admonish you to get involved in the teaching of morality, not just at the dinner table, but become actively involved in the lives of your offspring or employees, particularly in the early formative years. If you do a good job early on, it will be more rewarding later on. For children, encourage and support their interests, be it athletics, academics, music or hobbies. If this means becoming a coach, an umpire, a volunteer, or a member of the PTA or Scouts, so be it. However, do not become overbearing thereby inhibiting their personal development. In other words, do not try to live your life through your children. Be more of an observer and offer advice as required. Investing your time now will pay dividends later.
Finally, applaud those people exhibiting strong moral character or committing some unselfish action. Encourage such behavior, do not ridicule it. Such positive feedback will encourage others to emulate them as opposed to criticizing it. If you see someone who has committed some special moral act, either compliment them, or report it to the media, be it the local newspaper, television station, or on the Internet. Recognizing moral behavior is important for others to emulate, be it an act of honesty, keeping one’s word, extending one’s self to help another, or some other act. If people understand their actions are being observed by others, it can have a profound effect on their behavior, as well as others surrounding the person. Most people are modest and avoid reporting simple acts of moral courage they have committed. They modestly see it as nothing more than something they do on a normal day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, we need more role models to emulate, regardless of their social standing in life. We need more people to “Stand Up for Morality.”
“I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles. I don’t think our civilization will die that way. I think it will die when we no longer care. Arnold Toynbee has pointed out that 19 of 21 civilizations have died from within and not from without. There were no bands playing and flags waving when these civilizations decayed. It happened slowly, in the quiet and the dark when no one was aware.”
– Laurence M. Gould
EPILOG – Friends, I hope you have enjoyed this series on Morality. Again, you can obtain the entire text as an eBook entitled, “Stand Up for MORALITY,” which is available in PDF, Kindle and Audio formats.
All are available through MBA Press.
The Kindle version is available through AMAZON.
Mr. Bryce is available to speak on this subject
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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