The Character Building Project

Michael J. Kerrigan

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Chris Kyle preferred the common good to his own individual good. If you’ve seen American Sniper, you’ll recall that his preference is displayed poignantly in an argument with his wife, Taya, before his fourth tour in Iraq. She asks him why he’s thinking about going back “over there.” She’s raising the kids by herself. She knows these extra tours are not strictly necessary. Other husbands have done fewer, and she demands to know why he wants more. What about her and the kids?

Kyle doesn’t give an eloquent answer in the movie. He mentions duty to country and denies loving war for its own sake. In his autobiography Kyle reveals more, saying that he and his wife are thinking with different sets of priorities: God, family, and country in her case, but God, country, and family in his.

Most of us will never face this kind of existential challenge. There… Continue reading

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Lessons of Hope is likely to be read by most educators, but it should also be read by all reformers of the status quo. I say that because this is a story of one man leading the charge for change against a bevy of ardent status quo defenders.

Imagine the courage it took to take over the nation’s largest school district–one that was already suffering from low graduation rates, gang violence bleeding into the classrooms, and faculty close to their breaking point. Joel Klein accepted that challenge from Mayor Bloomberg, and took on the education of over one million kids. He was charged by the Mayor to reform NYC schools and transform the dysfunctional ones in high poverty areas into a nationwide model for improved public education.

In his eight years as Chancellor of NYC schools, Joel Klein not only demonstrated perseverance, but proved radical reform could succeed amidst formidable… Continue reading

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Our country takes great pride in the role volunteering has played in our history. We believe that volunteers are virtuous, kind and essential to the health of our society. It is why the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, for instance, is celebrated as a national Day of Service. We are a country that loves volunteering.

We are also a country where three out of four people don’t do it.

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service 62.6 million Americans volunteered in 2013. That is about 25% of the adult population, and if you happen to be keeping score, the lowest rate in a decade. Yes, you can view this as a glass 1/4 full. But given how important volunteering is, I’m not alone in thinking, “We can do better.”

Click here to read Greg’s full article about why the majority of Americans don’t volunteer. It will… Continue reading

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On Saturday, July 27, 2013, the Canadian Open was in full swing at the Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario. Thirty-one-old U.S. pro golfer Hunter Mahan was leading the championship by two strokes—primed year to capture the first-place purse of more than a million dollars!

After a rain delay of eighty minutes, Mahan was on the driving range warming up for his 2:50 PM third round tee off. Suddenly his agent, Chris Armstrong, rushed up to him holding out a cell phone. Mahan took the phone, spoke briefly, exited the golf course, packed his gear, and headed off in a car to the airport.

What made Mahan quit his sure shot at victory?

On the phone was Mahan’s wife Kandi. She was pregnant with their first child, and the due date was August 16. But Kandi was calling from a car en route to the hospital because the expectant… Continue reading

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Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.