By Linda Fisher Thornton
The Need for A Strong Moral Center
The ethical challenges we face are increasingly complex, and we need a strong moral center to guide us through them. We can think about it as having a strong character, being principle-centered, having integrity, or following an ethical compass. No matter what we call it, we need a strong moral foundation.
“You don’t get the opportunity to think when those challenges to your moral integrity arise. You’ve got to have an anchor already out there. Sitting in these classrooms, getting this great education, is the perfect time to think about who you are and what you’ll allow yourself to do. Because you will be challenged at times when you least expect it and are least prepared to deal with it. If you don’t have a moral foundation, then the winds assaulting your integrity can blow you off course.”
Wharton Leadership Digest, FINDING YOUR MORAL COMPASS: Reflections From General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, online at leadership.wharton.upenn.edu/digest.
This moral center that we cultivate helps us make good choices in interactions with other people. It reminds us that we need to think beyond our own interests to the long-term well-being of others and society. It reminds us that how we treat others is an ethical choice.
“people with a strong moral identity were more considerate of others—and they were significantly more considerate if they were also good at regulating their emotions.”
Jason Marsh, The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence, Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley , online at greatergood.berkeley.edu
Developing a strong moral center is a long-term process. We build the foundation with support from our parents in our early years. We seek experiences that strengthen our moral center. We read throughout our lives. We learn. We study. We teach others.
I have noticed that many people who have a strong moral center also have a sense of humility.
Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.
— Confucius (K’ung Fu-tzu), Chinese sage (551-479 B.C.)
How are humility and a strong moral center connected?
A strong moral center helps us see beyond ourselves. Seeing beyond ourselves helps us realize our responsibility to others. Realizing our responsibility to serve and care for others keeps us humble.