The Value of Trust 735.2

A teenager wants to go to a party, but she’s sure her mom won’t let her. So she and her friend concoct a false cover story. What’s the big deal? Most kids lie to their parents from time to time, and their parents probably lied to their parents. Despite rhetoric about virtue being its own reward, a great many adults …

Slow Dance 734.5

I once heard the chairman and CEO of a huge public company tell a roomful of ambitious, hardworking, dedicated executives that if he had to do it all over again, he would have spent more time with his family. That’s not news, but to Type-A personalities, it’s easier said than done. David L. Weatherford’s poem “Slow Dance” sends the message …

The Magical Reign of Harry Potter 732.1

It’s been 14 glorious years since Harry Potter was first introduced to the world. I truly loved each of the seven books and enjoyed the eight movies I’ve seen already . I’ve had lots of company — over 450 million books have been sold, and the movies (not counting the film just released) have taken in $6.5 billion in box …

Appreciating a Parent’s Love 731.4

While window-shopping in New York City, I saw an old gold watch that reminded me of one my father gave me when I graduated from college. It had been engraved with the simple inscription “Love, Dad.” But it was stolen during a burglary years ago, and I hadn’t thought much of it or the inscription since. I always knew my …

A Tale of Two Commentaries 731.1

Preface: The 90-second limit for my radio commentaries precludes a more thorough discussion of some issues. This “essay” is an expanded version of what was broadcast. Please remember my personal views in the commentaries, especially on controversial matters like these, are NOT views either endorsed or espoused by the Institute or the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. The Institute and CHARACTER COUNTS! …

The Ethics of Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage 729.2

I have a strong personal opinion on the issue of gay rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage. If you’re a regular listener you may think you can predict my views based on your impression of me as either a conservative or liberal. Probably half of you will be wrong. As a missionary of ethics and virtue with the hope …

Do I Have to Tell Everything? 728.4

Should a job applicant properly withhold information about a criminal record or termination from a previous job? Should a woman starting a new relationship say nothing about a previous marriage or abortion? These are problems of candor: When does an ethical person have a duty to reveal negative information about his or her past? First, let’s reinforce a basic premise: …

Heather and Hava 728.3

Life is full of all sorts of opportunities, many of which come in unexpected forms at unexpected times. For my wife’s friend Heather, an opportunity to do a great good deed came in the form of a scared and scrawny stray cat she found hiding in some bushes. Heather loves cats and thought of adopting it, but she already has …

Father or Friend? 728.1

As Father’s Day approaches, I want to share an edited version of a letter sent to me years ago by a listener named Sergio Ferreira. Dear Son, When I was a teenager I wished, just as you do now, that my dad could be my best friend. However, it wasn’t until my time to be a father came up when …

Noah’s Term Paper 727.4

Noah needed an A on his term paper. A friend said that lots of kids recycled papers they didn’t write, and he offered to give him a paper his older brother had gotten an A on three years before. When Noah asked his father for advice, his dad told him he hoped he wouldn’t cheat, but he didn’t want to …

The Commencement Curse 726.1

Millions of teenagers across the land are about to leave the womb of high school for a world full of new freedoms and responsibilities. Although many have been waiting for this event for a long time, eager to get on with their lives as liberated adults, the thought of leaving behind friends and familiar places can be scary. The transition …

Five Birds and Good Intentions 724.2

Five birds are sitting on a telephone wire. Two decide to fly south. How many are left? Most people would say three. Actually, all five are left. You see, deciding to fly isn’t the same as doing it. If a bird really wants to go somewhere, it’s got to point itself in the right direction, jump off the wire, flap …

Living and Reading 722.4

One of the most insightful and useful books I’ve ever read is a small volume by Harold Kushner called Living a Life That Matters. Today, I want to suggest ways of getting the most out of books, at least nonfiction books, which is about all I read. Reading shouldn’t be a passive experience. If you allow yourself to be absorbed …

Reveling in the Death of a Villain 721.4

Yesterday I admitted I was glad and grateful to learn of Osama bin Laden’s death, an emotional reaction I’ve had some difficulty connecting to my principles as I became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of reveling in the death of another human being, even though he was a villain. My niece Eliana helped me realize the complexity of the situation …

Disposition or Discipline? 720.1

Have you heard the story of a shoe company that sent two salesmen into the backwoods? After a few days, both came back. One was frustrated: “It was a waste of time. None of these people wear shoes.” The second was enthused: “Tremendous opportunity here. None of these people wear shoes.” It’s pretty obvious which salesman was more successful, and …

Mataya’s Coming of Age 719.2

This weekend family and friends gathered to witness our daughter Mataya’s bat mitzvah*, the symbolic transition from childhood to adulthood. It was our fourth bat mitzvah in five years, and frankly, we’re glad we’re done. Anne and I make them major productions. Anne has the hard part. She plans a party equal to a significant wedding and personally creates a …

No One Is Too Poor to Give 718.1

When Teresa, a widow with four young children, saw a notice that members of her church would gather to deliver presents and food to a needy family, she took $10 out of her savings jar and bought the ingredients to make three dozen cookies. She got to the church parking lot just in time to join a convoy going to …

So What Makes Us Happy? 717.5

There is an ever-growing body of knowledge about the nature and causes of happiness. For one thing, it’s clear that happiness is a feeling, not a circumstance. Happiness is more than just fun or pleasure. It’s a more durable sense of well-being. Our happiness depends not on what happens to us, but what happens in us. In other words, it’s …

Statement of Family Values 717.4

Our values – the core beliefs that drive behavior – determine our character, our ethics, and our potential. Thus, the most important thing we can do for our children is to stimulate them to develop positive values that will help them become wise, happy, and good. This is no simple matter. The first step is to achieve greater clarity about …

Seven Truths for Bosses 715.2

Here are seven truths I’ve discovered in my struggles to be an effective boss: It’s not what you say that matters; it’s what people hear. Just because you said it doesn’t mean they heard it. Just because you wrote it doesn’t mean they read it. Be sure your message is received and understood. There are lots of things you don’t …

Posttraumatic Growth 714.2

I’ve been fascinated, awestruck, and intimidated by disturbingly vivid real-time images of the destructive force of shifting earth and massive waves of water. Technology has given us an unprecedented ability to experience every nuance of Mother Nature’s show of power. The visuals have an unreal science fiction quality that can cause us to distance ourselves from the tidal waves of …

The Paradoxical Commandments 712.4

In 1968, when Kent M. Keith was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard, he wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments” as part of a booklet for student leaders. He describes the Commandments as guidelines for finding personal meaning in the face of adversity: 1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. 2. If you do good, people will accuse you of …

The Parable of the Carpenter 711.4

A master carpenter who worked for the same builder for nearly 50 years announced he wanted to retire. The builder told him how much he appreciated his work. He gave the carpenter a $5,000 bonus and asked him if he would build just one more house. The builder owned a magnificent lot with a spectacular view, and he wanted to …

Presidents’ Day 711.2

As Arabs in many countries are risking their lives in their struggle for democracy, many Americans take for granted our heritage and the freedoms others strive for. Take Presidents’ Day as an example. We used to celebrate the birthdays of two of the greatest leaders in U.S. history, true American icons George Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12). …

Experience What’s Left with Passionate Intensity 710.4

Recently, I attended my 50th high school reunion. I had mixed emotions trying to catch up with folks who looked like their own grandparents. I recognized more names than faces, but after a few words I remembered events and interactions when we were all teenagers exploding with hopes and potential. Once I got past my own sense of disbelief, I …

Good News and Bad News 710.3

There’s good news and bad news in newly released data from a 2010 Josephson Institute of Ethics survey of more than 43,000 high school students. The good news is that rates of stealing and cheating dropped about 5 percent since 2008. The bad news is that far too many high schoolers engage in dishonest conduct: 27 percent of the students …

Thanks for Making Me a Better Person 710.2

They said it wouldn’t last. When I married my dearest Anne 18 years ago, lots of people thought the differences in our ages (she’s more than 20 years younger) and religion would ultimately drive us a part. Not even close. Lord Byron said: “Love is friendship with wings,” and my love for Anne continues to soar. I’m not sure love …