|The Problem: Hyper-Individualism and Moral Drift|
|Violence on television
Violence in movies
Lack of praise and attention for people showing good character
Lack of positive role models
Culture of cynicism and apathy
| This is not an
easy time to be a parent, a teacher, or a student. We are all confronted
with a culture that glorifies violence and dehumanizes people. This
violent, depersonalized world bombards everyone with constant waves of
negative character reinforcement. Television and the movies are filled
with murder, profanity, and cynicism. Children watch thousands of
murders before they turn eighteen; the media reinforces negative
character traits. It teaches children and adults that its is normal to
lie, cheat, steal, and even kill. Children watch as children rebel
against their parents, they are taught to disrespect other people, and
they are told that they should only care about themselves. The values of
community are not supported in our communities anymore.
The effects of this constant stream of negative character messages reaches into every corner of our lives, it poisons the learning environment in our schools, undermines interpersonal relationships, handicaps our civic culture, and hurts our businesses. Students who do not respect themselves, their teachers, and their fellow students are not effective learners. They are unable to get the most from their time in the classroom, and tend to cause problems that undermine the ability of their fellow students to learn. Businesses rely on character as much as schools do. In the new economy workers will have to change professions several times, they will have to be life-long learners who are able to deal effectively with change and learn new skills. In this economy character will be more important than specific skills in making a person employable. Employers will need reliable, honest, hardworking employees who can deal with the constantly changing business environment.
Everyone wants to have friends and partners who are people of outstanding character, but few people make an effort to help others improve their character. Negative character influences can come from almost any direction at any time; it is the responsibility of every person to help other people to overcome these influences and to advance in their effort to be a person of outstanding character. This realization is at the heart of the Counting on Character program.