Essential 21st Century Character

When you ride on a public transport and somebody hands to you his fare without saying ‘paki-abot’ or could not even go close to saying, ‘thank you’ when he gets his change back, what does it mean to you? When you walk by any place of the city you try to greet the people you meet on the road, and get a scarce response, what does it mean to you?

If we could add up to a list of resources that are getting scarce lately, we won’t disagree perhaps if someone hashtags, virtues and values. What we knew of as good manners and right conduct in the ‘good old days’ are oddly becoming a rare commodity.

Somewhat this post-modern distinctive of children, teenagers,  and even young professionals age-group lacking or worse, having no firm grasp of the morally good, can be attributed to the idea that most of them  were not really personally taken care by their own parents. Their parents, in turn, did not have a sort of formal schooling on parenting.

As parents are normally out for work, a child is left to no one but a close relative, a nanny, or all forms media. And left on his or her own devices, a child grasp, learn, and adapt to what he or she sees.
Fortunately, there are good media sources which still talks about the need for values. One of which published a re-framed set of characters. If we look into the terminologies, they are perennial values system re-incarnated into new terms, probably to make them more appealing to the younger generation. These are grit, optimism, self-control, gratitude, social intelligence, curiosity, and zest.


Grit refers to that untiring persistence to finish a task or job. If we observe most teenagers, they have a hard time working hard. They are very good in starting and quitting when the going gets tough.  Optimism refers to the commitment to stay motivated even if things are not going well. It is also the belief that one could improve his future and the things he is not good at. We rarely see our kids now thinking about making things better the next time, because there is no next time.


Self-control simply put is temper in check. It is that attitude to be polite, to remain calm, and to resist one’s self, even the face of being criticized or provoked.


Gratitude refers to appreciation of what other people do and of opportunities that come along. As my mentor would say, “gratitude unexpressed is ingratitude implied.” A simple thank you to people who did something nice is gratitude expressed.


Social Intelligence is the ability to adapt to different social situations. It also refers to how we handle conflicts, considering the diversity of the people we deal with every day (including foreigners). It also refers to empathy or care to the feelings of others.   Curiosity gets in the list because this character may well start up one economic engine. While others are afraid to risk and try, it is important for one to explore new things and take interest in a lifelong learning process.


And lastly, Zest or that active participation and enthusiasm to engage. It may mean that a person approaches new situations with excitement and energy. Zest is that excitement to wake up and face the day’s challenges with much gusto.


For this generation, it might mean that essential characters must be treated as ‘brand’ names with the most appealing ‘packaging.’ The pressure is for adults to make values inculcation more engaging to learn and develop because other forms of media are taking our children away, subconsciously.


As much as it gets more difficult to inculcate the right character these days, nothing still beats intentionally modelling them, whether we choose the old or new terms.

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