The foundations of moral character


Families lay the foundation for good character. It is from those closest to us as children—parents mainly, but not only—that we form the basis upon which we build our character.

From those who hold us closest, guide us (or not), support us (or not) and love us (or not), we develop the habits of character, good or bad. Without a solid and good foundation, without life-long habits of doing good and caring about what is right, there will forever be a weakness, like a house with faulty floorboards and misaligned doors.

But weaknesses need not be fatal; they can, with proper attention and correction, be compensated for, shored up and built around.

We can’t change our foundation but we can develop new habits. This is accomplished by finding people whose character we admire, emulating their good traits and having faith in our ability to do better over time. It is by believing that the kind of people we are matters that we develop the character that we hold in esteem.

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2 thoughts on “The foundations of moral character

  1. I keep wondering where the boundary is between “nature and nurture.” I certainly think how we are raised significantly impacts who we are into the future, but then I read books like “How the Mind Works” by Steven Pinker and I am not so sure. I think certainly that there are habits of mind and heart that are pre-programmed and even primal. Very hard to overrule. On the other hand, living intelligently is learning to put the intelligence in control…

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