Last week on Dennis Prager Show’s Ultimate Issues Hour, Prager was speaking about the necessity of starting with the formation of character issues within an individual instead of starting with the reformation of societal issues. He cited the differences between religious schools and secular schools, with both institutions focusing on different goals. While some schools try to change the world in a top-down manner, through the pushing of scientific change and shaping the world through institutions, other colleges try to form the character of a person. Battling one’s flawed nature, in Prager’s mind, is where we can actually produce positive citizenry. Cultivating a disciplined life is where people can make a beneficial impact on society, effecting their immediate world.
I would agree with Prager for the most part, the formation of character is very important to our society. Citizens should practice integrity, wisdom, and servant-leadership in order to make the community a better place. Unfortunately, the emphasis in our culture is often placed on developing institutions to solve problems instead of developing the people who participate in the same institutions. Culture is made by humans, and flawed humans with twisted characters will produce flawed culture. The more flawed the individuals are, the more flawed the society.
Moving away from a political philosophy perspective, I believe that this can be applied to those within Christianity. Being a Christ-follower should mean that your character is changed. Indeed, it should be conformed to the image of Christ. Our lives ought to be transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit, producing a renovation of character, as our twisted will has been slowly restored towards God’s. While civic virtue is important, the restoration of our lives is also very important. To truly love our neighbor as ourselves, that is where we need help. Ultimately it is only in Christ that we can be made whole- thriving in authentic community.