10 Guidelines for Morality
Beyond maintaining our own morality, we might engage in moral outreach to exert our positive moral influence to improve the moral state of our families, communities and nations.
Conscience exists in social context, and often its initial scripting comes from the “moral support” of family members and friends. Just as we desire moral health for ourselves, we wish the same for our network of relationships—family, relatives, friends, colleagues and others.
Here are 10 guidelines for promoting the moral growth and health of others.
- Appeal to the person’s conscience. We can’t make other people’s decisions for them, since they each have the power of choice and must make choices as their conscience dictates; however, we can help educate their conscience and engage their moral imagination by suggesting novel and creative strategies and solutions.
- Listen to what the person has to say. Let others speak about the moral issue, dilemma or conflict; these frequently involve the clash of moral beliefs or values. While you can’t make decisions for them, you can help them clarify their moral beliefs.
- Be sensitive to nonverbal cues. Voice tones, facial expressions, and body movements all can indicate how important a moral issue is to them.
- Appeal to the good the person desires. Moral health requires making the “unspoken desire for goodness” spoken. Help the person cultivate a sense of goodness and gratitude. With a sense of goodness and gratitude, they are more likely to make better moral judgements.
- Remember a person can only be where he is. From the moral perspective, where we are at any point in our moral lives is the only place we can be.
- Encourage a future perspective. Focus on this future perspective and how they are shaping their own moral life by their daily decisions and choices.
- Provide compassionate care and loving challenge. The art of encouraging others’ moral growth requires displaying appropriately our care for them while fostering their growth.
- Keep your boundaries. We should not try to recover or rescue someone from their dilemma or resolve a situation that is beyond our means to control.
- Do not act in judgment; let them express guilt and remorse. If guilt or remorse is an appropriate response, and they acknowledge their guilt, then be supportive of their admission.
- Be willing to say that something is wrong. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion. You are not judging against someone by showing him where you stand.
Finally, I find that I have more moral credibility with others when I am open about my own moral struggles, dilemmas, and setbacks. To err is human. We all struggle to some degree.