I don’t generally follow celebrity antics, but I have to admit that I’m more than a little bit disappointed in Brian Williams. In the event that you don’t follow celebs either, he’s the newscaster who repeatedly lied about being involved in military operations during his newscast, on a late-night TV appearance, and to fellow journalists. Why am I disappointed – I mean, we all know that lots of people in the public eye tell fibs all the time; politicians, actors, musicians…and we almost expect it, which in and of itself is really sad. But there was something different about Brian Williams – he seemed to have integrity and I trusted him to accurately report the news without making it about himself – and that makes his fall even more disappointing to me.
In light of this, I’ve been thinking about character and what traits I admire in people, strive for in myself, and wish to instill in my son and these five immediately come to mind; integrity, humility, compassion, consideration, and honor. I love these definitions from the 52 Virtues Project.
Integrity – Integrity is living by your highest values. It is being honest and sincere. Integrity helps you to listen to your conscience, to do the right thing, and to tell the truth. You act with integrity when your words and actions match. Integrity gives you self-respect and a peaceful heart.
Humility – Being humble is considering others as important as you. You are thoughtful of their needs and willing to be of service. You don’t expect others or yourself to be perfect. You learn from your mistakes. When you do great things, humility reminds you to be thankful instead of boastful.
Compassion – Compassion is understanding and caring when someone is hurt or troubled, even if you don’t know them. It is wanting to help, even if all you can do is listen and say kind words. You forgive mistakes. You are a friend when someone needs a friend.
Consideration – Consideration is being thoughtful of other people and their feelings. You consider how your actions affect them. You pay careful attention to what others like and don’t like, and do things that give them happiness.
Honor – Honor is living by the virtues, showing great respect for yourself, other people, and the rules you live by. When you are honorable, you keep your word. You do the right thing regardless of what others are doing.
The 52 Virtues Project was a movement founded in the 1990’s by an Australian couple who wanted to start a conversation with kids about values in a non-religious environment. While the project no longer seems to be active, I think the take home message that we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and instill those beliefs in our children should be revived. I’m starting by taking a good look at myself and reflecting on those things that I’d like to change and talking to my son about why these virtues are so essential to society as a whole and the individual alike.
Which virtues are important to you and how are you conveying the importance of them in your family?