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Archive for Thursday, October 15, 1998

VALID VALUES

October 15, 1998

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McLouth's community-wide effort to teach character-building values sets a great example that other cities could follow.

The saying ``it takes a village to raise a child'' has been overused to the point of becoming a cliche, but that doesn't mean it doesn't express an accurate sentiment.

McLouth residents are taking that sentiment to heart with a new group they call the ``Community Character Construction Crew.''

Wednesday's Journal-World included a news story about residents' idea to reward youngsters for good behavior, rather than punish them for bad behavior. They are emphasizing well-accepted virtues like respect, responsibility and cooperation. ``Honesty Week'' starts Monday in McLouth.

The effort is community-wide. Ministers are being asked to emphasize honesty in their Sunday sermons. Posters on honesty will be displayed in stores, and the schools will hold assemblies about honesty. Response to the program has been positive, and a high percentage of the population has indicated a desire to help.

Think how wonderful it would be if the McLouth idea were to catch fire with hundreds or even thousands of other communities around the country. If a community the size of McLouth can enlist the support for such an initiative, perhaps it would give larger cities the courage to mount similar programs. McLouth could serve as a model for the rest of the country.

Unfortunately, too few people seem to attach proper importance to virtues such as honesty, personal responsibility and respect. The McLouth effort comes not a bit to soon.

Chances are someone somewhere will try to figure out why McLouth's focus on virtues is not ``politically correct'' and will try to attach some negative or ulterior motive to the project. Anticipating such a reaction, one of the McLouth leaders said, ``We'd like to make a distinction between virtues and (religious) values. We're not trying to dictate what's right and what's wrong to people, we just want to emphasize those things that determine virtuous character: honesty, respect, responsibility and cooperation.''

It might also be argued that it is parents' responsibility to teach their children about everyday ethics and that schools shouldn't be involved in such things. The fact is, schools and communities always have been involved in teaching and sharing good values. Those things should be taught at home, but they are reinforced at school and in community activities.

This all may sound a little corny to some people, but those probably are the same people who think virtues like honesty and respect are a little old-fashioned. Maybe McLouth's effort is a throwback to a simpler time when outside influences were less and simple values were easier to teach and monitor.

But strong values are something that never goes out of style. McLouth adults are doing their children a favor by planning activities that show how important they think those old-fashioned values are.

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