Principles to Live By

Importance of Teaching Values (New 24 Mar 2016)

Spiritual wisdom for the Class of 2020 (New 23 May 2020)
FBI: Hate crimes, anti-Semitic attacks up in 2017 (New 16 Nov 2018)
High CEO Pay Means Disappointing Stock Returns (New 1 Aug 2016)
Importance of Teaching Values (New 24 Mar 2016)
America's economy is a nightmare of our own making (New 25 Jun 2015)
The Stranger in Your Home (New 24 Mar 2015)
The Cost of WWII Air War (New 28 Mar 2014)
Wealth Inequality in America (New 6 Dec 2013)
The Psycholoty of Winning (New 3 Feb 2013)
Crisis of the Middle Class (New 8 Jan 2013)
Income Inequality Grows in TN (New 15 Nov 2012)
Why the Economy is Slow (New 12 Oct 2012)
Veteran's Charity Under Fire (New 15 Aug 2012)
Nursing Homes Vs. Prison (New 12 Nov 2010)
Soul of the Republic (New 30 Oct 2010)
National Purpose (New 16 Oct 2010)
Inside Job (New 14 Oct 2010)
'Big Business' Democrats (New 14 Oct 2010)
Corporate Governance (New 1 Oct 2010)
Common Good (New 1 Oct 2010)
American Wealth (New 19 Sep 2010)
Shrinking Middle Class (New 19 Sep 2010)
Financial Market Failure (New 15 Mar 2010)
Pledge of Allegiance (New 14 Mar 2010)
The Gift of Fear (New Jan 2010)
No Time to Lose (New Sept 2009)
Fiduciary Responsibity (New 7 Mar2009)
What Hamilton Has Wrought (New 27 Mar2009)
What Would Jesus Do? (New 21 Mar2009)
Global Warming (New March 2007)
What I Wish For
Scout's Oath
Osama Bin Laden
Close to Home
Inhumanity to Man
DC Area Snipers
Civil Society
Religious Extremism
Stem Cell Research
Contact Me
Peaceful Civil Disobedience

Fairness Trustworthiness Kindness
Patience Gentleness Knowledge
Discipline Compassion Integrity


There is no doubt that American society is today made up of citizens who exhibit less than stellar adherence to the Golden Rule.

Just today we read about the agency head responsible for getting food to needy children in Clarksville TN stealing money for her own personal use.

The TN state legislature refuses to bring to the floor "Insure TN", the Governors' program to use Medicaid funding to expand coverage for poor Tennesseans who can not afford medical insurance.  This in spite of clear support across the state.

A shooting took place in south of Nashville when a suspected robbery went wrong.

The news is full of examples of road rage, teens killing other teens, prescription drug addiction out of control across the country, hate crimes, and the list goes on and on.

The need for understanding and practicing basic values has never been greater.  Society can not long survive unless the citizens behave rationally and humanely.  A society built on individualism and a winner take all foundation is destined to failure.

I wish Teaching the best of luck in fostering the growth of this educational objective that will benefit everyone.

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I found the below information on the web site Teaching  This web site claims to be "One of the most extensive sources on the web for parents, teachers, homeschoolers and anyone involved with character education for children." 

Making Sense of Values

Had we lived one hundred and twenty years ago we would not have heard the plural noun "values," meaning the moral beliefs and attitudes of a society. Until then the word "value" was used only as a verb meaning to value or esteem something or as a singular noun, meaning the measure of a thing, for example, the economic value of money, labour or property.
      The change came in the 1880's when the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche began to speak of values as moral beliefs and attitudes. Nietzsche used the word "values" consciously, repeatedly and insistently to signify what he took to be the most profound event in history. His "transvaluation of values" was to be the final, ultimate revolution against both classical and Judaic-Christian ethics. Neitzsche believed that with their death would come the death of truth and above all any morality. There would be no good or evil, no virtue or vice but only values that were personal and subjective. Then, at last, Neitzsche believed, humanity would be freed from the prison of virtues and morality.
      Over the years Neitzsche's concept of values was absorbed unconsciously and without resistance into the ethos of modern society just as the word values was absorbed into the vocabulary. Values have become whatever any individual, group or society chooses for any reason. The old virtues have been demoralized and personalized to become values.
      With the growing use of the word values, the word virtues; those traits of character that aspire to moral excellence like honesty, compassion, courage and perseverance, fell into disuse. But contrary to Neitzsche's belief and hope, virtues did not die but become regarded as moral or objective core values.
      For this reason, today, any list of values is likely to include the old virtues.
      Values, as we now know them, can be either preferences or principles, which represent the opposite ends of the moral spectrum.
      Values that are preferences, like any other preferences, whether it is for tea or coffee, for long rather than short hair, are personal choices that are subjective and able to be changed at any time. On the other hand, values that are principles, like honesty and compassion, are consistent, universal, transcultural and objective.
      The greatest difference between the two types of values is that preference values are some thing "to have," in the same way as one may have a skateboard or a bag of marbles, while values that are principles, are something "to be." In fact, the most important thing to be, like, honest, kind, compassionate and responsible.
      Over recent years, as citizens throughout the western democracies have become aware of, and concerned about, the loss of social cohesion in their communities, the part played by values in the formation of character has been more closely studied.
      What Neitzsche did not understand was that virtues, moral or objective core values, worked in three interrelated parts; moral knowing, moral feeling and moral behaviour, that connect to good character.
      To possess the objective core value of, for example, compassion, one must first understand what compassion is and know what it requires of one's relationship to others. To be compassionate one must have moral knowledge, but that does not make one compassionate.
      That requires the addition of a moral feeling about compassion, being emotionally committed to it, having the capacity for appropriate discomfort when one behaves without compassion, and being capable of moral indignation when one sees others victims of suffering, exploitation or greed.
      But again, moral knowledge and moral feeling do not make one compassionate. One must behave with compassion; acting compassionately in one's personal relationships and carrying out one's obligations as a citizen to help build a caring and just society.
      Compassion, like all objective core values, requires the involvement of the head and the heart together with the hand.
      The three parts of an objective core value, moral knowledge, moral feeling and moral behaviour are directly linked to good character. Good character is the habit of knowing the good, the habit of desiring the good and the habit of doing the good.
      The teaching of objective core values like honesty, kindness, compassion, respect and responsibility by parents and schools is essential if communities are to restore and advance their social cohesion.
      Historically, education, in countries all over the world, has had two main goals. To help young people master the skills of literacy and numeracy, and to help them build good character. Societies since the time of Plato have made character a deliberate aim of education. They understand that to create and maintain a civil society there has to be education for character as well as intellect, for decency as well as literacy, and for virtue as well as for skills and knowledge.
      Until recent decades, major philosophers concerned with education stressed the critical role of moral education. They were almost unanimous in assuming that adults, as either parents or teachers, should bear the central authority and responsibility for shaping the character of the young.
      While we New Zealanders can be justly proud of many of our achievements, the reality is, that over recent decades we have not been teaching and replenishing those attributes of character that are essential for social cohesion, the maintenance of a civil society and the preservation of a liberal democracy.


John Heenan, a former school principal, is director of the New Zealand Foundation for Values Education Inc. and author of "Cornerstone Values - A Values Education Curriculum."

A Case for Teaching Objective Values

Objective values (principles or virtues) transcend time, space, and culture. That, they are consistent, universal and transcultural, and that they inform and direct our behaviour.

      These objective values include, but are not limited to, eight cornerstone values.

  1. Honesty and truthfulness
  2. Kindness 
  3. Consideration and concern for others
  4. Compassion
  5. Obedience
  6. Responsibility
  7. Respect
  8. Duty                    

     These universal values build character, which produces behaviour that is beneficial for the individual, others and the community. They enhance the wellbeing of all; prevent harm to both the individual and society; are the essence of healthy relationships and are essential for the conduct and preservation of a democratic society.

      Democracy, government by the people, is dependent upon citizens who must, at least in a minimal sense, be responsible and good. People who are committed to the moral foundations of democracy: respect the right of others, respect the law, are concerned for the common good, and have a regard for truth and justice.

      Historically, schools had two major goals; to help young people to be smart, in terms of literacy and numeracy, and to help them become good.

      Wise societies, since the time of Plato made character education, demoted over recent decades to values education, a deliberate aim of schooling. Indeed, New Zealand schools, until the later decades of this century, placed a high priority on what was called, character training.

      There was a sound reason why earlier generations rated character training so highly. They understood the connection between objective values (virtues) and good character.

      Objective values have three parts: moral knowing, moral feeling and moral behaviour. To possess the objective value of honesty, for example, I must first understand what honesty is and what honesty requires of me in my relationship with others (moral knowing).

      I must also care about honesty - be emotionally committed to it, have the capacity for appropriate guilt when I behave dishonestly, and be capable of moral indignation when I see others victims of dishonesty (moral feeling).

      Finally, I must practice honesty - acting honestly in my personal relationships and commercial transactions and carrying out my obligations as a citizen to help built an honest and just society (moral behaviour).

      Schools, in order to help students become good people, must help them develop good character. This involves a process of helping them to know what objective values are, to appreciate their importance and want to process and practice them in their day-to-day conduct.

      Good character, like objective values, comprises three parts: knowing the good, desiring the good and doing the good - habits of the mind, habits of the heart, and habits of conduct and behaviour. All three are essential for good character and moral maturity.

      It is not enough to know the good without desiring and attempting to do it.

      When parents and schools think about the kind of character that they want for their young people, three aspects of character become clear. 

  1.  The ability to judge what is right
  2. To care deeply about what is right
  3. To do what they believe to be right - even in the face of pressure from without or temptation from within.                   

Understanding the connection between the three parts of an objective value; moral knowing, moral feeling and moral behaviour, and the three components of good character; knowing the good, desiring the good, and doing the good, is essential when developing a comprehensive values education programme.

      Good character is the set of objective values that a person possesses and practices.

      There are compelling reasons why a progressive school would want to implement effective comprehensive values education. It would help to:

  1. Become more civil and caring communities
  2. Reduce negative student behavior
  3. Improve academic performance
  4. Prepare young people to be responsible citizens and productive members of society                   

        Many can remember a teacher who influenced their live in an enduring way. The research on resilient children indicates that one significant adult - someone who bonds with a child and builds confidence, character, and hope - can help a child rise above adversities such as dysfunctional families, abuse, poverty, and deprivation.

      When calling on schools to teach values it is important to offer hope of what communities and schools could be. And to remind schools that they can have an impact and strengthen their effectiveness and skills in the process.

Why is Teaching Principles So Important?


*Statistics based on the 1997 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), a comprehensive survey of high school student health behaviors which includes data for the nation, 36 states and territories and 17 cities.

  • 10% of our youth reported carrying guns.

  • 27% of young people frequently smoke cigarettes.

  • 21% of youth are having sexual intercourse before age 13.

  • 36% rode in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

  • Over 7% attempted suicide within the past year.

  • Over 50% had at least one drink of alcohol in the past month.

  • 33.4% had five or more drinks of alcohol on at least one occasion during the past month.

  • 26.2% used marijuana during the past month.

  • 3.3% used cocaine during the past month.

  • 16% used inhalants during their lifetime.

  • 73% of all deaths among school-age youth and young adults result from four causes: motor vehicle crashed, other unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide.

Education Reporter: Eagle Forman

  • In 1979, a CBS News poll found 66% of those surveyed would support a leader who would bend the rules to get things done.

  • In 1990, a survey in the Washington Post: "a majority of children surveyed by a Rhode Island Rape Crisis Center thought rape was acceptable. In New York City, rape arrests of 13-year-old boys have increased 200% in the past two years."

  • Americans "are making up their own moral codes", with 9 out of 10 citizens reporting they lie regularly, one-third of all married Americans indicating they've had an affair, and 7% saying that for $10 million they would kill a stranger.

  • Situation Ethics: According to a recent national poll of more than 20,000 middle and high school students conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics: 70% of high school students admitted cheating on an exam at least once in the last year, 78% said they had lied two or more times, and an amazing 47% acknowledged having stolen something from a store in the last 12 months.

Why We Need A Curriculum That Builds Character

  • 7% of schools report crime, from vandalism to rape.

  • 15% of students say that they are crime victims at school.

  • 13% of students say they know students who bring guns to school.

  • 28% of students report gangs at their schools, up from 14% in 1989

"Golden Rules" by Wayne Dosick p. 2-3
In the early 1950's, elementary school teachers from across the United States were asked to list the top five problems in their school. They replied:

  1. talking out of turn
  2. chewing gum
  3. making noise
  4. running in the hall
  5. cutting in line

      In the early 1990's, the same question was asked of teachers. Their replies were profoundly different:

  1. drug and alcohol abuse
  2. guns and knives in school
  3. pregnancy
  4. suicide
  5. rape

      More than three-quarters of all Americans believe that this country is in serious moral and spiritual decline.

      Police report that in a recent twelve-month period, more than 1.7 million young people under the age of eighteen were arrested for criminal activity. By most estimates, more than 1.5 million children in America come to school every day carrying a weapon.

      Two-thirds of American teenagers claim that when they are adults, they will have no hesitations about padding their business expense accounts or cheating on their taxes.

1998 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth
Survey Data on Youth Violence
[Report released May 1999}

     The Josephson Institute of Ethics and the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition released new data from a national survey of more than 20,000 middle and high schoolers. The figures paint a troubling picture of the attitudes and actions of America's youth regarding guns and violence:

  • Twenty-four percent of male high school students, and 18% of male middle schoolers, say they took a weapon to school at least once in the past year. Males are substantially more likely to carry weapons than females and older students are more likely to carry weapons than younger ones. Still, 5% of all (male and female) 10- to 12-year-olds - and 6% of 13- to 14-year-olds - say they took a weapon to school. On a separate question, 14% of males in high school, and 9% of those in middle school, say they "sometimes" carry a weapon to school for protection.

  • Fifty-nine percent of males in high school, and 35% of those in middle school, say they could get a gun if they wanted to. Fourteen percent of all (male and female) 10- to 12-year-olds, 33% of 13- to 14-year-olds, 47% of 15- to 16-year-olds and 54% of 17- to 18-year-olds say they could get a gun if they wanted to.

  • Seventy percent of all high schoolers (76% of males), and 73% of middle schoolers (79% of males), say they hit a person in the last 12 months because they were angry. Though less likely to engage in violence, a majority of females (63% in high school; 68% in middle school) say they have hit someone in anger during the past year.

  • Forty-seven percent of all high school males believe it is sometimes O.K. to hit or threaten a person who makes them angry. 39% of middle school males, 25% of the high school females, and 24% of middle school females say they share this view.

  • Forty-seven percent of all middle school students, and 43% of all high school students, say they do not feel safe at school. Males (50%) are more likely to feel unsafe than females (44%) in middle school, but in high school both males and females expressed the same level of fear.

  • Eighty-eight percent of the males in high school, and 86% of males in middle school, believe it is always wrong to force a person to have sex.

  • Twenty-two percent of males in high school, and 9% of males in middle school, say they have been drunk at school at least once in the past year.

      The figures in this report are based on written surveys that were administered nationally by randomly selected schools throughout the nation in 1998. The margin of error is +/-3%. The survey included responses from 20,829 students (10,760 high school students and 10,069 middle school students).

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