At a time dominated by news of mail bombs and verbal grenades from zealous partisans, who would have thought it was possible that the entire United State Senate and the President could agree that, of all things, that character still counts? Well, it happened through a unanimously endorsed Resolution and Presidential Proclamation declaring the third week in October CHARACTER COUNTS! Week.
Despite concerns that the current political atmosphere might prevent such a consensus. this is the 25th consecutive year a variation of Resolution 681” some doubted that a consensus on any issue. This year’s resolution was made possible by the leadership of its sponsors: Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY).
The Resolution encourages proactive and pervasive character education declaring that “the well-being of the United States requires that the young people . . . become an involved, caring citizenry of good character” and it calls on the nation “to embrace the elements of character identified by local schools and communities, such as trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.”
Significantly, the Resolution also notes that “every adult has the responsibility to teach and model ethical values and every social institution has the responsibility to promote the development of good character.”
Michael Josephson, 75, founder of the nonprofit Josephson Institute of Ethics and the CHARACTER COUNTS! initiative acknowledged that at this time such a declaration could be viewed as hypocritical empty rhetoric.
“I was recently asked whether character really counts anymore?” Mr. Josephson said. “My answer: of course it does, but not as often or as much as it should. I know that many will be cynical about the sincerity of a unanimous bi-partisan Senate Resolution and Presidential Proclamation declaring the importance of core ethical values, but I believe that this rhetorical commitment the virtues of honesty, respect, responsibility and caring reflects a truly deep understanding of and aspirational commitment to traditional virtues. CHARACTER COUNTS! is committed to translating these aspirations into actions. We are relentlessly optimistic that conscious efforts by our leaders and our children’s teachers to teach and model core ethical values will cause more of us, more often to be guided by our better angels rather than our latent demons.”
CHARACTER COUNTS! is a program of the nonprofit Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics with international influence. It is the largest (involving as many as 8 million children and their families annually) and most effective school and community-based character education and student development program. The week is being celebrated through various events including parades, assemblies and values-based student activities in thousands of schools all over the United States and in Puerto Rico, Bolivia and Colombia.
Though CHARACTER COUNTS! functions primarily in the arena of youth education, the Institute also has a very robust series of programs for government institutions (www.josephsonInstitute.org; www.JosephsonsExemplaryPolicing.org and www.whatwillmatter.com) and is planning to sponsor a national conference on civility following the mid-term elections.