We Americans need a character education overhaul and it won’t be as easy or as simple as entrusting our vehicles to local mechanics. We must examine what is most important to our emotional, mental, physical, financial and spiritual well-being in light of the overall dismal condition of the American people.
When you look at
rising health care costs,
over dependence on prescription drugs, especially for stress-related health problems,
excessive divorce rates,
the large number of teen suicides and teen pregnancies,
addictive behaviors such as alcoholism, drug abuse, bulimia, gambling,
cheating, lying, deceiving, dishonesty in our religious institutions,
rising rates of obesity in our young,
corporate thievery and greed,
the large number of homeless people,
racism and sexism,
how people in other countries respect us less, and
our obsession with materialism, violence and war, to name a few problems
I think you’ll agree with me that something is amiss in our beautiful country. I love America (during Christmas season, 1984, in response to a radio station’s contest, I ran through the streets of Hartford, CT carrying an American flag in honor of living in the freest country in the world).
Because we value freedom and have exceptional creative skills, I know we can reinvent ourselves. We can transform how we conduct ourselves in our
careers and jobs, professions and businesses, educational systems, healthcare approach, churches, mosques and synagogues, politics, in fact, our entire society.
Character traits such as rugged individualism, the cherished American dream, and excessive materialism we’ve held so dear as individuals and as a nation no longer serve us.
We need to ask ourselves which character traits make us a more loving, kind, compassionate people interested in others not for what we can get from them but because we’re all in this together.
For America to regain the admiration and respect we once held throughout the world, our focus must shift from a materialistic, stuff and fluff, “never-have-enough” mentality to one where spiritual and character values dominate our decisions and actions.
Our obsession for bigger and better in pursuit of happiness has left us spiritually bankrupt regardless of the size of our bank accounts.
Studies show that money can’t buy happiness. In our quest for material abundance, we have, in fact, stressed ourselves beyond what is healthy.
“Up to 90% of the doctor visits in the USA may be triggered by a stress-related illness,” say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet, close to 45 million Americans or 15% of the population have no access to health care, and thus must deal with stress and other health concerns on their own.
Which actually may be better for them.
“The US health care system ranks last among other major rich countries for quality, access and efficiency, according to two studies released May 15, 2007 by a health care think tank.”
What positive character traits, which character education programs, and what character education activities and lessons are needed for families and schools to assist our children in learning good character traits?
Resources for character education and character education curriculum make up only a very small part of a child’s education unless the child is home schooled.
Therefore, it’s up to parents to lead the way in teaching character education to their kids.
In Part 2, I discuss how to take the first steps in overhauling our character education. Lessons from the past can inspire us to adopt good, positive, character traits that serve our children and our nation.
It all begins with one simple, though not easy, change in our collective angles of vision.