Patterns of character development

Published 10:46 pm Monday, January 22, 2018

By Joe Bass

I always watch with interest the various ways Americans celebrate Dr. King’s birthday. There are speeches, marches, demonstrations and news articles, mostly by people that ignore Dr. King’s dream of a world in which character is more important than skin color.

Unfortunately, some people mainly focus on skin color in their daily lives and during the national holiday. Because of this, they are blind to seeing and understanding the importance of character and its influence of the outcome of people’s lives.

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I may have an advantage over such blind individuals, because I lived in South Central Los Angeles before moving to Virginia. South Central, commonly and erroneously thought of as black in population, is actually an international, “multi-” community made up of people from all over the world.

Having lived in such a place, it is easier to see the influence of “good” and “bad” parenting and the observable results in the lives of young people. Regardless of skin color, young people that do well as adult Americans experienced much the same pattern of upbringing. Young people that do not do well experienced a different pattern of upbringing.

A young person’s path in life is generally set by the time he or she is 17 years old.

Those that will eventually lead a fruitful, productive life as adult Americans will have been taught by their parents to be self-reliant. From an early age, they will have learned the importance of being personally responsible in thought, word and deed. They know how to work with and socialize with people from different backgrounds. They will be well on a path of getting an education that will help them be economically productive and be informed citizens that will participate in positive ways in our democracy.

Those that will not lead a fruitful, productive life as adult Americans will, by 17, already have a juvenile criminal record. They can only socialize with one group of people and will be unable to talk in the mainstream American vernacular that is needed to be successful in education and employment. They and their parents will be dependent on government handouts. They will blame their shortcomings and lack of successes on the actions of others. Their involvement in our democracy will focus on acquiring more government support. Their major problem is that they have been “overserved” and do not know how to be self-reliant.

Regardless of skin color, young people that do well as adult Americans experience a positive pattern of upbringing that develops self-reliance. Young people that do not do well experience a negative pattern of upbringing that develops dependency. Americans that are blinded from their focus on skin color need to understand this.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at