This article was first published on KSL.COM
I read your News Year’s article about all people having the same value, but I frankly disagree. People who hurt others, destroy property or cause trouble are bad people and those who work hard and do right things are good people. I also disagree with those who want to give a trophy to every kid, so no one loses or feels bad, and I think you are in that camp saying that virtuous choices don’t mean anything and we should all be treated the same regardless of our behavior. How can I teach my children to be good people if they have the same value either way?
Let me explain my philosophy a different way and see if it makes more sense. There are definitely human beings who behave in a more responsible, mature, kind, law-abiding (conscientious) way than others, but are they intrinsically of more worth than other people?
I personally would classify them as "more conscientious beings," not as having “more intrinsic value.” Can you see the difference?
I believe there are basically two mindset options when it comes to seeing the value of people.
This doesn't mean we trust everyone or want to hang out with everyone — but it does mean we respect everyone.
Let me explain this using the sports analogy you mentioned, because I agree with you that the winners should get the trophies. Having winners and losers in a game is healthy and teaches kids to work hard and roll with the punches in life, but they should also be taught that winning doesn’t make you intrinsically better than the losers. It just means you worked harder, were blessed with more athletic ability, or had parents who spent more time practicing with you. That is why you won, but winning does not make you more deserving of respect or kindness. You still have the same intrinsic value as the losers.
Your hard work and conscientiousness will pay off and benefit you in life, but your virtuous behavior does not make other people less than you. They are just "less conscientious" than you. They are in a different place in their journey.
It is really important that children learn this correctly, because if they start thinking that those who win are better than those who lose, this can bleed over into seeing people who are different from them as less than them. It is a short jump from seeing the T-ball team that lost as less than you, to seeing those of a different color, or who live in a different neighborhood, or who go to a different church, as less than you.
I think when you said you wanted to teach your children to be "good people" you weren’t talking about their value being higher than others, you were talking about them being conscientious, responsible, kind people who are driven by moral values and principles. This is something it would serve all of us to work on and teach our children, but it doesn’t involve being better than anyone else.
It is about virtues and principles — not value and worth. We must work on being good people without looking down on people who aren’t working on it yet. That is the trick.
Here are some rules for being a conscientious human to practice and teach your children:
In my New Year’s article I talked about changing yourself and changing the world. I still believe you are either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem, and the problems on this planet won’t be solved by pointing fingers at others. They will be solved by working on YOU — the only person you have any control over.
Robert S. Hartman said, “The good takes time; one cannot be good in a hurry. … This is why peace will not come through so-called strong men. They look for easy and fast solutions. It will come through men of patience, compassion and humility — men of faith.”
You are the solution and you can do this!
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a coach and speaker.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.