For the past twenty years I have addressed a crisis of character in American society through my presentations and published works.
This crisis is witnessed in the public sector at the highest levels of government with scandals, arrests, indictments, and prison sentences.
Yet, the crisis is also evident in the private sector with blistering violations of moral decency.
America’s crisis of character has also lacerated the reputation of the entertainment industry, professional sports, and even religious institutions thought to be sacrosanct.
Our nation must respond to the crisis with a commitment to an ethical renaissance. The heartbeat of character is our nation’s destiny and it needs to be resuscitated.
A Warning from Lincoln
In my opinion, lessons of character from Abraham Lincoln are critical to the reawakening of America.
Abraham Lincoln is admired as an ethical leader, who possessed masterful communication skills built on the pillars of honesty, ethics, and character.
With character as Lincoln’s foundation, his timeless words are a new clarion call for America. They serve as a prophetic warning for a nation whose character has been diminished:
“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
If only the character of Abraham Lincoln were truly taken to heart, America would be transformed.
Character: America’s Wakeup Call
All who truly love America must stand on the pillar of moral indignation against the crisis of character in our society.
We must be dedicated to the ideals of character in order to expedite our transformation from a culture that is often callous, crass, and corrupt.
America must reflect retrospectively on events from our past that exemplified character, courage, and compassion.
We must rise up against the moral deficiencies of the day. The immortal words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) are applicable to us once again, “this generation has a rendezvous with destiny.”
If the call to America by FDR during the ominous days of World War II were now reignited, our reawakening would be resuscitated.
FDR stated that America have a “toughness of moral and physical fiber which is precisely the characteristic of a free people, a people dedicated to the institutions they have built.”
Complementing the leadership of FDR was General Dwight Eisenhower. General Eisenhower had a reputation of never yelling, shouting, or losing his temper. He was a dedicated father and grandfather figure to those entrusted to his care.
Eisenhower’s temperament helped foster collaboration without ever undermining his authority. He cultivated a mentality of patriotism among the special young men and women who will be eternally honored for saving democracy and civilization.
General Eisenhower made America proud of its call to be liberators. He kept his troops focused by his reminder that “the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and the security for us in a free world is our mission.”
Truth: A Pillar of Character
As detailed in my article for the March 21, 2017 Epoch Times titled “America’s Culture of Deception: The Art of the Con,” I argued that “truth is the indispensable moral sanction for a healthy society.”
The article also stated that America is “experiencing a massive and pervasive pandemic of deception.” It argued that “wherever there is deception, or the misrepresentation of truth, the moral order required by society is wounded.”
America must respond to our crisis of character and dedicate itself to truthfulness. Truth must be reflected in our words, both verbal and written, and in our actions. Truth must be the light that emanates from our souls and inspires all the activities of our lives.
The illumination of truth is a light that penetrates the darkness. We are reminded of its power through the words of Winston Churchill who stated that “the truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
West Point: Developing Leaders of Character
The United States Military Academy (USMA) has lessons on character for all of America.
Their mission statement includes “to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character to the values of Duty, Honor, Country.”
The USMA leadership development system is designed to define outcomes. The demands including to “live honorably and build trust” and to “pursue excellence and continue to grow” are applicable not only to the Corps of Cadets, but to all truly dedicated to America.
As Lt. General L. Caslen, Jr., Superintendent of the USMA states, “As the Army looks to the future, our officers’ need for competence and character has never been greater.”
Character is critical to the future of the U.S. Army. Yet, the wisdom of the USMA and Lt. General Caslen, Jr. on character for the Corps of Cadets is also critical to all of America. Character must be the heartbeat of the duties, responsibilities, and circumstances of life for all privileged to call America home.
The heart of America demands character which will be the only antidote to our current crisis of moral decency.
Character is the virtue which animated the great leaders in our history.
The resuscitation of our character is our responsibility and our destiny. Character must be alive in our homes, schools, workplaces, courts, communities, social media activities, and government.
Character must especially be alive, and continually beating, in the heart of every person privileged to call America home.
Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen to Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.