Personality development - The Role of Ethical Values

Personality development of an individual is judged not merely by external appearance but also by maturity of thought. Physical features wither away with age whereas ethical or moral qualities of an individual will continue to remain entrenched deep in the minds of not just the present but also future generations.

Personality features commence not just at school level but even earlier when a child gains an understanding over its surroundings. and observing the actions of his parents. The child has in the process already gauged many aspects of life much before his elders perceive him to have done so. 

The famous saying goes that “the child is the father of the man”. Inherent personality traits rise to the surface more clearly during schooling. However no two individuals possess the same personality and comprise various categories like the meek, obedient, persuasive, indifferent, aggressive and dominating. It is however the moral attitude behind all these features that is the basis for personality growth. 

The self-confidence, power of expression, clarity of thought and capacity to analyse come to the fore slowly and steadily with these qualities available in various proportions in each individual. It is at this formative stage that ethical values have to be inculcated in the child to enable him to mature as an adult of qualitative trend of thought.

Ironically, “Money” is the main, if not the only governing factor for success and comfort in the world today and is totally related to physical wealth. However, the term “wealth” also refers to moral qualities which are not being effectively instilled in modern education. 

Education on the other hand today is more financial oriented, with business profits preceding ethical values. An earlier generation was not even aware of “play schools” Further creches have arrived today in an environment where both spouses are employed. 

However, these institutions are largely indifferent to child development. Children, in the process experience a parental “disconnect” lacking family attachment. 

sense of values evades the child which is the prime cause for unethical conduct and destructive trends of thought. Further, prestigious schools demanding exorbitant donations for admission from hapless parents have done more mental destruction of ethical norms at source. 

Many schools have, as a result, converted themselves into cradles of corruption rather than as “temples of knowledge,” instilling negative qualities and thus harming qualitative personality development A child has accordingly been influenced by the greed for money. External tuition is also being thrust on students prior to all school examinations irrespective of intelligence. 

Similarly private coaching institutes have converted education into a commercial activity rather than an ethical function. Subsequent education thus becomes only a formal knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic without conveying the need for moral values. 

Accordingly, the foundation of personality development has been weakened, laying bare the seeds of corruption. Accordingly criminal thoughts and acts like stealing and cheating occur at an early stage to later probably convert them into anti social elements. 

Many parents wrongly confuse ethics with social status although the two aspects are totally unrelated. Although it is true that honesty and integrity develops in a child in relation to either the company he keeps or the environment in which he is living, it cannot on the face of it be concluded that  those from the lower strata of society are unethical. 

Ironically the position may be the very opposite with these children of lesser social status are more morally upright and exercise greater responsibility. In contrast the children from the higher strata may turn spendthrifts and acquire morally harmful objects to destroy ethical qualities. 

Further honesty and integrity go far beyond purely legal interpretations. Although all statutes function around the basic principle of honesty, they do not look beyond practicality of implementation. Legislation also can be interpreted relatively. True honesty and integrity come from within and a clear conscience ensures greater social orderliness. 

The adolescent phase is an impressionable phase as the individual is neither a child nor a mature adult. He has just broken free from the shackles of school discipline and experiencing a freedom of thought and action without properly gauging the route ahead to become a mature adult. 

Accordingly unethical thoughts and actions may occur in his life, the prevention of which can be ensured by parents through sensitive monitoring and guidance to avert loss of values in character building. 

Ethical values are therefore building blocks to human character and essential to gain recognition and social respect.

C. Gopinath Nair - The author with 36 years of service in Banking industry, is a freelance writer.

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