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8      CHILDART      THE MORAL OF YOUR STORY                                                                                                                                                                            APR-JUN 2021      9
                                                                                                                                      KAREN J. DIEFENDORF, MDIV, STM, THD (HONORARY)

                                                                                                                                      CHAPLAIN (LIEUTENANT COLONEL), US ARMY (RETIRED)
                                                                                                                                      FORMER DIRECTOR OF CHAPLAIN SERVICES
                                                                                                                                      TYSON FOODS, INC.
                                                                                                                                      ELGIN, SOUTH CAROLINA

                                                                                                                                      As a child, I loved the Fourth of July. My family had traditions   Norms—what a group would view as right and wrong
                                                                                                                                      to celebrate this day. My dad had the day off from work. He   actions or behavior
                                                                                                                                      loved having our extended family—grandparents, aunts,   Morals—what “is” right and wrong
                                                                                                                                      uncles, cousins—all come to our house for a cookout.   Ethics—how a person reasons or decides what is right
                                                                                                                                      There was a small park, not far from our house, with a lake   and wrong
                                                                                                                                      where we kids could swim. And then there were fireworks   Law—society’s way of creating norms for behavior,
                                                                                                                                      at night. But not every family in our neighborhood had   with associated consequences
                                                                                                                                      these traditions.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Think about a time when you had a disagreement with
                                                                                                                                      Along with the fun of our traditions, I was learning family   someone. You couldn’t imagine how they could think that
                                                                                                                                      values. I learned to be cautious about things that could   way! If you take a breath and let go of your emotions in
                                                                                                                                      be dangerous, like lighting firecrackers or swimming too   that argument, you learn to listen to your friend’s reasons
                                                                                                                                      far from the shore. I learned that my family valued safety   for thinking what they do—their ethics. When you are more
                                                                                                                                      and that it was right to obey my parents’ warnings. But   interested in what they did than what they thought, that’s
                                                                                                                                      I had neighbor friends who seemed to have no fear and   a morals issue!
                                                                                                                                      far fewer rules—their parents didn’t mind if they lit their
                                                                                                                                      own firecrackers and didn’t accompany them to the lake.
                                                                                                                                      Were those parents less caring? Were those parents wrong   A moral dilemma occurs when two
                                                                                                                                      and mine right? Not necessarily. Sometimes it’s just that   of your strongly held values cannot
                                                                                                                                      our families did things differently. How about your family
                                                                                                                                      and other families you know? What beliefs, traditions, and   both be kept at the same time.
                                                                                                                                      values are similar or different and how does this affect the
                                                                                                                                      choices you make?
                                                                                                                                                                                          Here is an example that illustrates how many of these
                                                                                                                                      How do you know what’s right and what’s wrong? That’s   influences come into play. Imagine that you and your
                                                                                                                                      a particularly important question. Our first teachers of   friend are in a store and your friend picks up a package
                                                                                                                                      right and wrong are probably our families, whether that’s   of baseball cards with bubble gum and slips it into her
                                                                                                                                      parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles. We may learn from   pocket and leaves the store without paying for it. You might
                                                                                                                                      watching our siblings or cousins. Most of us begin to learn   say, “Hey, you can’t do that. That’s stealing. That’s wrong!”
                                                                                                                                      this when we are learning to crawl or pull up to a table. I’m   (morals). Your friend might respond, “They’ll never miss it.
                                                                                                                                      fairly sure my mother said, “No, no,” when I reached for the   Besides, they’ve got more money than I do!” (ethics—her
                                                                                                                                      wrong thing and praised me when I reached for the right   reasoning for why it was OK to do it—we refer to that as
                                                    YOUR                                                                              thing. Our impressions of right and wrong expand when   “justifying” what we do). This presents a moral dilemma
                                                                                                                                                                                          for you. Can you still hang out with her? Should you tell
                                                                                                                                      we go to school. For the first time, we have our values
                                                                                                                                      either reinforced or challenged.
                                                                                                                                                                                          the store owner? A moral dilemma occurs when two of
                                           ANSWERS,                                                                                   You are now at the age when you understand the difference   your strongly held values cannot both be kept at the same
                                                                                                                                                                                          time. In this case, the values might be honesty and loyalty.
                                                                                                                                      between right and wrong and your responsibility for your
                                                                                                                                                                                          The value that wins will determine your choice to either
                                                                                                                                      actions. It’s important to know how we develop our views.
                                                                                                                                                                                          tell the store owner and possibly lose the friendship or to
                                                    YOUR                                                                              The following things all influence what we decide is right   keep quiet and keep the friendship.
                                                                                                                                      and wrong:
                                                                                                                                                                                          Our morals are important and how we keep them, individually,
                                                                                                                                         Facts—data; things supported by evidence
                                                                                                                                                                                          affects how we live together in our neighborhoods and
                                              MORALS                                                                                     Beliefs—ideas and opinions that interpret what we   towns. Laws (actions a community expects) won’t matter
                                                                                                                                         experience and guide us in what we do; may or may
                                                                                                                                                                                          much if no one keeps them or if they aren’t enforced. This
                                                                                                                                         not be based on facts
                                                                                                                                         Truths—applications of facts and beliefs that help to   is part of what makes us able to live together safely. Our
                                                                                                                                                                                          community values life, so we stop at stoplights.  So, what
                                                                                                                                         guide one’s decisions                            are your expectations for how people ought to act? How
                                                                                                                                         Myths—stories that teach a lesson, principle, or moral   should we treat one another? What do you think? Your
                                                                                                                                         about a behavior                                 answers reveal your morals.
                                                                                                                                         Values—most strongly held beliefs

         ARTWORK ELAINA MCTAGGERT (9) GEORGIA, USA                                                                                                                                                                         
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