Character Values

I might as well get this off my chest. It’s a topic not mentioned in my book but one I feel strongly about. In this newsletter I am getting on my soapbox and putting my thoughts on record so my grandkids can understand where I stand on changing the direction of the decaying society into which they were born. Hopefully they can make my passion theirs.

I cover three topics that are overwhelming problems to me: politicians, lack of economic opportunity and unrest on our streets, and the Catholic church. They are separate concerns, but they all have one thing in common — a demonstrated lack of character values.

Let’s begin with our politicians. We look to them to do the right thing, but more and more of our elected officials appear to not have sound principles and a healthy philosophy. It is not difficult to see what’s happening—it’s all over the news. Many say one thing but their actions denote the other. So many politicians have been caught in wrongdoing and get away with it. Where is the accountability for their actions?

According to authors Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns in a book entitled This Will Not Pass, one reason the former president, for example, has not been held accountable is that Congress felt little pressure from the public. Part of the problem is the ignorance or lack of interest of large segments of the American people. Then there are those who justify the lies and deceptions of their favorite politicians and defend them.

Want to solve the unrest and disorder on the streets? We ask minorities to go to war for us, but then try to keep them down. They need to be brought into the system. Company CEOs could educate downtrodden minorities, teach them skills, and create jobs for them within their companies. Greed has become the mark of success. CEOs are making exorbitant corporate salaries. Instead, companies could empower their employees—for example, give them equity in the company. Employees would be more apt to work harder in the interest of the company and the success of the company would be more equitably shared.

I can only hope current behavior in society is not the harbinger of more serious civil unrest. Atrocious conduct seems to be visible everywhere, even in institutions that should be leading the cause for a more just, principled society. Anyone watching the rudeness, bullying, nitpicking and the lack of respect, civility, and decency toward new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson should be dismayed and disgusted. I hope and pray this is not the new standard of behavior.

And then there is the Catholic church. At one time, I was more Catholic than the Pope, but the hypocrisy of the church I experienced during the divorce from my first wife and the lack of accountability of the priests who were caught with their pants down turned me off, as did inconsistency in preaching. The church was not walking the talk.

These are just three institutions in our society fraught with dishonesty, hypocrisy, greed, and selfishness.

There is truth but it is disregarded. There is love, but it’s unrecognized. What is being marketed is greed and making money any way you can. This usurps positive character values. With the direction we are moving as a society, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. Democracy will go out the window. People will be ruled and controlled by a few filthy rich.

We appear not to be civil anymore. What’s wrong with a friendly smile and hello to those whose paths you cross? How about showing up on time? Where are the self-starters? And people who clean up their own mess? I often wonder about the work ethic of the American business world. It’s becoming more difficult to find what’s needed: emotional intelligence in the form of listening, common sense, empathy, and compassion toward one another. Caring, trust, and respect and the ability to talk to one another and understand and appreciate the other person’s point of view.

The problems are not difficult to understand, but it will be very challenging to implement solutions. Fortunately, the system to solve the problem is in place. Our brilliant forefathers gave us the rules: government by the people for the people — for all the people, not just a few. What an awesome work our Constitution is!

The teachers are doing the best they can teaching character values, but the educational system needs to be funded properly. When I was working in the business world at Prince, I had all the racquets and supplies I needed. When I became athletic director at Rider, it was hard to get resources, even a pencil.

The churches of the world, which are charged with teaching the character values taught in school, need to set the right example. The justice system needs to hold all groups and individuals equally accountable.

Our institutions are charged with getting the American people on the same page. Any one of them can start rolling the ball in the right direction.

If any one institution reinforced and taught true character values, there could be true and positive change in society. Love would usurp hate. Fairness over greed. Listening and understanding others points of view. Empathy and compassion. Working together as a rational team. Living up to commitments. Being honest with one another. This would foster caring for one another and diminish the conflict and hatred and even prevent war.

Think about another solution. Marketing departments of the world are constantly pushing people to buy what they want them to buy, whether it’s merchandise or a concept or a political view. They make their products as attractive as possible, knowing that people often only remember that which they are reminded of. Quoting from the book The Art of Thinking by Ernest Dimnet, “A small section of people tells them what they are to think and they think it.”

How about marketing positive character values? Knowing the power of marketing myself, I believe promoting these values can change society.

Having been on this earth for 89 years, I’ve seen so much change, some good but way too much regressive.

I am known for my positivity, which I preach every day. This newsletter may sound negative, but my goal is to wake people up to the negativity that is all around them, the decay it is causing to society. I urge people to change the direction society is going by adopting character values as individuals, within institutions, and in society as a whole.

I salute and commend those honest politicians, businesspeople, church leaders, and educators who are advocating the issues I’ve presented. They are out there doing the right thing and should continue on that worthwhile mission.

My advice to my grandkids, and to everyone, is to be aware of what is all around you. The majority of what you hear and see in society is negative. Don’t imitate it. Adopt and embrace true character values and encourage others to adopt them too.


  1. Joan Craig

    Hi Marty, I love this post and I couldn’t agree with you more on all issues. And I love your positivity. I wish there were more people in this world that had your thoughts and could act with more character. I know my Uncle Stosh would be so proud of your writing!

  2. Beth Kerr

    Wonderful and so true! Thanks for writing what I am feeling.

  3. Gail Ann Palatine

    What a wonder read, Marty. Everything you wrote is right on point. I wish everyone could read this article, not only those subscribing to your newsletter. More folks should have access to your insight!

  4. Jim McDevitt

    Spot on Marty. Unfortunately there is no simple solution to any of these pervasive ills that confront all of us. Fear it will be a generation before any headway is made.

  5. Sari

    It’s all so simple and yet appears to be so hard for society at large to grasp. We all need to treat each other with basic kindness, thoughtfulness and human dignity. Thank you for sharing your spirit and insight. It has so much value.

  6. Sharon Vaccarello

    Wow, Thank you! It is refreshing to hear other, slightly more mature 😉 folks saying the same things that I myself and my husband say and believe. Marty, my family line and Mary Ellen’s are connected and I too was raised solid catholic, however over the years the hypocrisy became too blatant with no moral compass left in the church. If it wasn’t the “do as I say, not as I do” rule then it was the “stand behind a politician just because of his party and not morals” rule. I no longer understand humans these days. We are all equal and should be treated as such. I cannot believe that so many generations have gone by and people are still saying and believing horrible things about another human being. It’s time to grow up and evolve…. I just wanted to thank you for sharing this and of course, beautifully said~ Sharon

  7. Noella Passero Fried

    Thank you Mr. Devlin for publishing the thoughts and concerns of many Americans. I look forward to your newsletters and will pass them on.
    Sharon and I worked for you at Rider.

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