A list of character traits for quick reference is a valuable commodity for anyone to own and use. Whether you are engaging in a self-help effort or teaching moral values in a school setting, you will want to find the best such catalog available and treasure it. You might wonder, of course, whether the list of character traits found is accurate and complete or lacking in some way. How many authentic high moral values does it contain, and who determined what they should be? How do you judge a list of character traits?
Let’s look together at two well-known catalogs of moral values from which you might choose.
A list of character traits that is widely used in U.S. public schools contains six basic values, which the authors have likened to six pillars.
The second list of character traits is much longer. It includes sixty-six different qualities of a person who adheres to high moral standards. It is used by public and private schools in the U.S., as well as public and private schools around the globe. While space will not allow me to give all sixty-six values on that list of character traits, let me give you half of them. You can find the other half later.
04. compassion (caring)
What’s the Difference?
What is the difference between these two? Obviously, one list of character traits contains many more qualities – sixty more. Actually, the second replaces one supposed value in the first with a different value. How do we account for such a huge difference in number?
The first, arrived at in a small conference, is a product of consensus. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines consensus as “general agreement” concerning a matter. Fewer than a hundred men and women discussed moral values and reached general agreement that a complete list of character traits should contain six entries. It was a consensus of human opinion.
The second list of character traits strives to include every moral absolute that has been valued from the beginning of human history. It recognizes moral values that are “written in stone” because they come from a source higher than humankind. It offers moral values that are never relative or situational. They remain constant from one person to another, one generation to another, and one situation to another. You never have to second guess them or sort them out for yourself.
The main difference between the first catalog and the second is that one is based on human consensus, the other on divine revelation.
One Example of the Differences
Looking at each list of character traits in depth reveals a number of differences. We have space to look at only one.
Let’s consider the inclusion of citizenship on the first list of character traits. I think that many of us, after careful thought, would remove citizenship. We would point out that involvement in community affairs is not a moral matter. We might agree that staying informed and voting can be good practices, but not moral values. These are not the stuff of which moral fabric is woven. National and global political circles feature millions of people who exercise citizenship through lives typified by immorality.
A person who exercises the qualities found on the second list of character traits will definitely be a good citizen. There is no doubt about that. He or she will value citizenship as long as that citizenship does not require exclusion of a true moral value.
A list of character traits for quick reference is a valuable commodity to keep on hand. Look for one that is based on absolute values and build your life around it.