Michael J. Kerrigan

Courage in America

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If readers of the character building project are serious about exploring an excellent answer to this question, I heartily suggest reading the above-cited article from Big Questions online. https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/2015/02/17/good-character-caught-taught/

If you do not have the time read the article, the quote below will offer “cliff notes.”

Some people believe that nature makes people good, others say that it is habit, and still others say that it is teaching. Experience shows that logical arguments and teaching are not effective in most cases. The soul of the student must first have been conditioned by good habits just as land must be cultivated to nurture seed…. Aristotle

I intend to further investigate the source, namely the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre focusing on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing. It promotes a moral concept… Continue reading

My last three posts: I Cannot Live Without Books, Does Our Nation Still Have An Appetite For Great Books, And Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Western Culture’s Go To Go are less about my own reading addiction and more about preparing the next generation of informed citizens. Whether all of us are fit to govern, all of us must be prepared to be making informed judgments about whom “we the people” delegate the daily business of governing.

The next generation of informed citizen might consider accepting one of two challenges. First, we can take a cue from Charles Eliot’s “five feet” of books. That is set aside sixty inches of shelves to build a list that would be limited to about sixty books. It would be fun to learn from readers as to what books they would choose to be on their personal shelves.

Second readers might consider accepting the “Century… Continue reading


There are many excellent reasons to purchase and enjoy Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, Notes on Startups.

For starters, going from zero to one or intensive (vertical) progress means doing new things. Vertical progress is harder to imagine because it requires doing something no one else has done. In short, doing new things is wiser than copying things that work. Thiel is best in questioning conventional thinking for he advises a start up must question received ideas and rethink business from scratch.

Two conventional beliefs Thiel asks us to question are monopolies and competition. “Creative monopoly means new products that benefit everybody and sustainable profits for the creator. Competition mean no profits for anybody, no meaningful differentiation, and a struggle for survival…. The more we compete, the less we gain.”

The book offers entrepreneurs many lessons learned but the best suggestion I offer is if you have little… Continue reading

Since some are better navigating this site than others and for my Face Book friends, I have stated below the mission, vision, brand and insight of the Character Building Project.


To foster character building strengths, relationships and meaning in a rising generation of citizens by sharing the stories of successful and ethical leaders who presently serve or have served others in military, education, public and private sector careers.

To generate greater meaning, purpose and engagement in life’s satisfaction by belonging to and serving the character community and the community at large.


To enhance character development by writing, researching, teaching, speaking and leadership that illustrates the relationship between character development and the individual’s reasoning skills, moral will and self-discipline.

To reclaim the study of character as a legitimate topic for the layman.

To establish an authoritative and credible BLOG thereby expanding a conversation about the importance individuals of good… Continue reading


My assessment of well-written works like, Cal Newport’s Deep Work is the strength of the logic, the value of the thesis and how often I explore the footnotes and go onto to further reading of other authors cited.

There is little question of the value of the thesis of Deep Work or the importance of having the skills to quickly master hard things in the Intelligent Machine Age. The logic of achieving these skills, namely the ability to produce high value knowledge work at an elite level is less appreciated but the Newport’s case for productivity is consistently made throughout Deep Work. The book argument answers not only the “why” but also the “how.”

To better understand the “why” one only needs to read page 27 where Newport recalls the “bargaining theory” explain why the Great Restructuring is a particularly good time to have access to capital. The brief… Continue reading


Why raise a moral saying of Publius Syrus,* a Roman slave?

As visitors to the character building project site will note, I record maxims and mottoes as they interest me. Secondly, when I came across the idea of learning well but neglecting to do well, I was reminded of the four exemplars that provided the intellectual foundation for my new book, Restoring Character in America.

The essays of the four character experts demonstrate they are not only learned but also that, through their work on character, they have done well. Few men like Rich Lerner, Mike Matthews, Paul Stoltz and Greg Mooney have their proven intellectual firepower but who have also used it for the good of their fellow citizens.

*Publius Syrus (fl. 85–43 BC[1]), was a Latin writer, best known for his sententiae. He was a Syrian… Continue reading

Proud of my son’s tale of character in today’s WSJ.


In the 1990s the 1789 Restaurant in Washington, which is still around today, hired Georgetown University athletes as valets. I was not a Georgetown athlete, but I covered for one over winter break and earned a permanent spot in the holiday rotation.

The job was fantastic. Parking cars wasn’t hard labor, and the chef had a soft spot for valets, so we always ate well. I think he enjoyed watching us knock back peanut soup while huddled in a stairwell below street level.

The maître d’ was a gentleman. When a valet dined in the restaurant—say, with his girlfriend—this courtly man made sure the couple was given a table by the fireplace and treated like royalty. Once, when dining with my now-wife, the chef asked if… Continue reading

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men,” observed James Madison, “neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Because we cannot expect a society of angels, we need government; and because we cannot expect angelic regimes, we must oblige government to control itself and to encourage such control  we published Restoring Character in America.


Because the National Training Seminar – Day** of the Military Child Education Coalition is coming soon, I thought a good way to envision the outcome of this year’s training would be to read a testimonial of a mom who attended this event last year.

Day 1 was very interesting and informative! The theme is “Grit-Determination-Perseverance” and is homage to our Military children. These are words that describe what our kids possess and what we as parents, educators, and members of the communities surrounding our Military installations, can help enhance and encourage within them.

I appreciate the theme and will say that I have seen those three qualities displayed countless times in the Military kids I have known, including my own!

One of my favorites quotes states “Courage is not always a roar. Sometimes it is a small voice saying I’ll try again tomorrow.” I’m sorry to say I… Continue reading

We hope that you will enjoy reading Restoring Character in America. But more importantly, we hope that you will share our message!

It is our hope that you will share its message by purchasing, additional copies and donating them to schools, libraries, teachers, coaches and guidance counselors. Consider helping this campaign.

“Thankfully, Michael J. Kerrigan has nailed a crucial issue in the continued growth of America. To be a great nation, there must be some shared values, beliefs, and behavioral constraints that lead to self-discipline and a concern for the common good. This is what makes a nation one and united. In a nation of character, there is no difference in how one behaves when no one is watching. There is an internal moral compass that guides and controls behavior. It is crucial that parents, teachers, coaches, and other influential people serve as role models if America… Continue reading


In writing Restoring Character in America I learned from four character exemplars (three PhDs and one Community Leader) who contributed essays of their work, there is a character development process. Through this process, especially for individual’s trying to improve their character, a type of discipline discernment is required.

Reading sacred scripture daily may provide life’s answers for my Judeo-Christian friends. Also there are a myriad of guides to help live out the wisdom, meditations and perseverance of the Old and New Testaments.

My secular friends might enjoy reading Ryan Holiday’s, The Daily Stoic. Stoics frame their work around a series of exercises in three critical disciplines:

The Discipline of Perception how we perceive the world around us.

The Discipline of Action, the decisions and actions we take/to what end.

The Discipline of Will how we deal with the things we cannot change.

By controlling our perceptions, the Stoics… Continue reading

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Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.