Moral development is one of the great responsibilities of the Army chaplain. If the chaplain can promote moral development within the unit, and witness a demonstrable change within that unit, they have been successful ina very important part of their job. The great philosopher Aristotle noted that “moral virtue comes about as a result of habit”. 1 (pg. 28) Moral virtue is the result of intentional moral development. In order to witness development, moral virtue must be practiced. As a chaplain, I must be the change I wish to see in my Soldiers. The modern saying “practice what you preach” is very applicable here. Additionally, having consistent briefings on developing moral virtues would greatly aid to the unit’s ability to understand what this entails and how to put it into practice. The ultimate result of moral development is moral courage. To practice moral development should lead to a demonstration of moral courage, which is the ultimate goal. Rushworth Kidder defines moral courage as “the quality of mind and spirit that enables one to face up to ethical challenges firmly and confidently, without flinching or retreating”. 2 How does this principle manifest itself in Soldiers? They should have “the courage to be honest, to be fair, to be respectful, to be responsible, and to be compassionate”. 3 This is the ultimate goal of promoting moral development within our unit. If our Soldiers can demonstrate these principles, they will not only be better Soldiers, but better citizens. Intentional, visible practice on our part is a necessary part of promoting moral development. Teaching our Soldiers what this means is another part. In private counseling sessions, this should be promoted as well. To have the moral courage to do all of the above and be all of the above, is in a sense preemptive on the part of the Soldier. To live these values, and to be this kind of person, could solve many problems before they got out of control. In the Army culture, moral development is encouraged in living the Army values. The Soldier’s Creed, which every Soldier must recite, states that “I will live the Army values”. The Chaplain then can reinforce to the Soldiers that, in order to fulfill what is recited in this creed, you must practice moral development. This consistent,
habitual, intentional moral development leads to moral courage to do the right things. In doing these right things, you become a morally courageous individual. If moral courage becomes part of who you are, then you have become the Soldier that the Soldier’s Creed seeks to produce. The Chaplain should live out moral courage in front of the Soldier. They should intentionally be in front of the Soldier, visibly teaching them what moral development looks like and what it leads to, this being moral courage. They should tie all of this into the Soldier’s Creed and the Army Values. They should promote this in private counseling sessions. In doing all of these things, Soldiers will have every opportunity to witness and practice moral development and become morally courageous individuals.
1 Aristotle. The Nichomachean Ethics. (New York: Oxford University Press), 28.
2 Kidder, Rushworth M. Moral Courage. (New York: HaroerCollins Publishers), 72.
3 Ibid, 70.
NG, LR, NCU, USAR
My collection of personal papers written over the years