Michael J. Kerrigan



In previous posts and in my forthcoming book, Restoring Character in America, I have documented both the decline of character in our country and the corresponding decline of people’s trust in our government. Both have been stained by scandal and incompetence. This sad state of affairs has made me think whether we ought to extend trust to our leaders and when are they worthy of receiving our trust.

It has been a long time since I read Adam Smith, the 18th century moral philosopher and father of economics. My favorite line in Wealth of Nations… is instructive when it comes to economic motives…

                     It is not from the benevolence of the of the butcher, brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner but from their regard of their own interest… we never talk to… Continue reading

Your comments on “Courage” and “Selflessness” caused me to reflect on my own experiences. I remember getting up to get back in the fight after I took the hit to my chest realizing if I did not get up and get my platoon moving, we were all going to be killed. It was my duty to set an example and fight, not lay there on the ground. That was terrifying. After securing my wounded we got back in the fight, killed 23 Mahdi Militia and secured our objective.

When the extent of my injury was fully diagnosed I was in a pretty bad place. It seemed I was losing my way of life and everything I worked for. However I came to realize that it was up to me to fight to recover and regain my life, which to a large extent I have. For the good of my family… Continue reading

One of our readers of The Character Building Project suggest we read all four verses to our National Anthem…

The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming, 
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight 
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming? 
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, 
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
 O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave 
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep 
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, 
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?… Continue reading

My friend, noted author, speaker, and management consultant, Robert Porter Lynch took time away from his many projects to offer another view on courage. Robert’s thoughtful analysis (see below) has caused me to mediate much deeper on the virtue of courage. Having studied the character of ten exemplary characters in Politics with Principle and listened to several mentors, especially, Robert on “trust” and Paul Stoltz on “adversity,” I am now ready to offer my own analysis of courage, the first among the cardinal virtues. Continue reading

A goal of the Character Building Project CBP is to serve the character-building community by shining a light on its prominent thought leaders.  Toward that end, in the last few months, we have identified dozens of character experts. Several have dedicated much of their entire professional life to enhancing character development through their research, writing and teaching.  Four have found success by researching specific elements of good character such as handling adversity, exhibiting leadership, cultivating virtue, and building trust.  These four authors provide us with valuable resources…

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Before the Character Building Project claims an honor code should be required for candidates and possibly Members of Congress, let’s look deeper into the code of honor at the University of Virginia. As we see by the excerpts below from the official UVA site, the code began as a pledge, evolved into a code of conduct outside the classroom and has become a system of enforcement. Totally student run, without “adult supervision,” the system has, as our three UVA law school graduates tell me, worked well. Continue reading

Hopefully, many will readers will appreciate Robert Porter Lynch’s commentary http://www.characters-with-character.com/blog/2011/3/14/collaboration-creates-extraordinary-results.html#comments and see the extraordinary result of our last post on “collaboration.”

Robert joins the Character Building Project (CBP) in calling for a our “highest quest,” a “symphony of synergies,” or as Robert states  … Continue reading

It occurred to me through the publication of Politics with Principle and by working on the Character Building Project (CBP), I am now approaching the ten thousand hour threshold of hours of practice Malcolm Gladwell proposed in his best selling book Outliers: The Story of Success. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1858880,00.html Continue reading

In profiling several prominent players such as, Robert Porter Lynch, Paul Stoltz, Steve Markel, Bob Hall, et al, I have been asked what’s up with the “character community.”

Part of the mission of The Character Building Project (CBP) is to provide support for and exposure to those working to improve character in America. After publishing Ten Characters with Character I was pleased to learn so many professionals have long labored in these virtue vineyards. By profiling several of the more prominent players my aim is to aggregate a critical mass of players and introduce them to the public at large. Continue reading

The 112th Congress begins not necessarily from a clean slate and a pure heart, but from the actions of our elected officials as we find them… a mix of independents, conservatives, liberals and one or two socialists. Some will be virtuous and half virtuous; some will be smart and others foolish. When they arrive in January we will see how the men and women at the helm as well as the rank and file display courage when their character is tested. We will see how they use political power, for better or worse in accordance with their character. As keen observers know, political power magnifies a legislator’s character. For most, it amplifies their flaws, petty vices and vindictiveness. For some it magnifies their strengths, virtues and magnanimity. Continue reading

There is an erosion of character-based leadership in our politics. Our country is more polarized than ever and cooperation is less common. Civility has not always prevailed in our country and its role in our political culture cannot be taken for granted. We have an increasingly uncivil congress and our campaigns are engaged in endless partisan warfare. 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.