Lots of folks say that, while they can’t exactly define it, they know it when the see it. Character, that is. Few, though, would argue with author and talk show host Dennis Prager’s take on it: “Goodness is about character-integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat people.”
Yes, indeed, and reminiscent of the Golden Rule we all repeatedly heard growing up: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But since we don’t all abide by it, there’s been a history of character-building lessons in our schools.
Back in 1993, the Josephson Institute of Ethics proposed a set of universal values during a meeting in Aspen, Colorado which came to be known as the Aspen Declaration of Character Education. Among its tenets:
- “People do not automatically develop good moral character; therefore, conscientious efforts must be made to help young people develop the values and abilities necessary for moral decision-making and conduct.
- Effective character education is based on core ethical values rooted in democratic society, in particular, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, justice and fairness, caring, and civic virtue and citizenship.
- These core ethical values transcend cultural, religious