Our Moral Compass: What Makes A Person

“Character, not circumstances makes the man.”

-Booker T. Washington

     I can think of no greater word to describe someone who instills the mental and moral qualities necessary to make this world a better place than the word character. Booker T. Washington’s quote is one of few words but has had and continues to have a powerful impact on me and my outlook on life. Our circumstances don’t define us, our character does. He was an American educator, presidential advisor and a leader in the African American communities during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I remember in elementary school I even did a book report on him and based on what I read about him from what I can remember, his character was one like no other. Now the only thing I would change to this quote would be character, not circumstances makes the person because this quote should be applicable to all.

Charactercounts.org says there are six pillars to someone exhibiting true qualities of character: trustworthy, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. They go onto to define each of these qualities that I think serves as a good reminder for what is needed for our own moral compass no matter how old we are:

For TRUSTWORTHINESS
Be honest in communications and actions • Don’t deceive, cheat or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country • Keep your promises

Connections to SEL I see within this one are self management, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

For RESPECT
Treat others with respect and follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements

Again I see self management, relationship skills and responsible decision making in this one but also social awareness.

For RESPONSIBILITY
Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Be diligent • Persevere • Do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act • Be accountable for your words, actions and attitudes • Set a good example for others • Choose a positive attitude • Make healthy choices

Obviously responsible decision making and self management are the dominant SEL components here.

For FAIRNESS
Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly

I see relationship skills and self management along with social awareness qualities.

For CARING
Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Show Empathy • Express gratitude • Forgive others and show mercy • Help people in need • Be charitable and altruistic

Social awareness, relationship skills, self management and responsible decision making are evident in this one.

And lastly For CITIZENSHIP
Do your share to make your home, school, community and greater world better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer

All SEL areas including self awareness are in this one which makes sense because if we want to truly be a contributing citizen we need to encompass of them.

What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards defining/refining your own moral compass?

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