Moral character is important for all ages. This time, I interviewed a teen regarding the Dojo Kun. Emma is 13 and has trained in traditional karate for two years. In addition to working hard at the dojo, she is a thoughtful and well-spoken honors student.
J: Emma, thank you for being willing to talk with me, and for knowing your Dojo Kun.
E: No problem.
J: How would you put Dojo Kun number one, in your own words?
E: We should always do our best to do the right thing, which is being honest, trying hard, being respectful and using self-control and self-discipline. Basically, follow the Dojo Kun.
J: You make it sound easy.
MORAL CHARACTER AND FRIENDS
E: It’s not always easy. Say if someone is getting picked on in school. You have to decide if you should intervene or say something. Maybe it’s just their friend giving them a hard time. Then it’s tricky, because you don’t want to butt in and be nosy. But what if you can tell it really bugs them?
J: That’s a good question.
E: Yes, if they decide to hang out with mean people, is it my place to protect them?
J: Maybe not. Especially if you were not in that conversation.
E: Probably not. That’s between them. It’s their own relationship.
E: But say you witness someone getting picked on out of the blue.
J: Is that easier?
E: No. Because then you probably need to say something and stand up for them. You have to figure out what to say and how to say it. And you have to do it right then. I like people, but honestly, it’s intimidating to stand up to someone. And you can’t show any bit of intimidation. You have to be either casual and/or strong.
MORAL CHARACTER AT HOME
J: How do you use Dojo Kun number one at home?
E: Be truthful with your family. Don’t be a quitter. If you say you’re going to do something, then follow through with it. Respect your family and yourself. Control not just your actions, but especially your words.
J: That could have helped me when I was your age.
E: Yes, what you say is a physical ability. And your words are yours to control. When you get mad at someone, that’s when you have to be careful what you say.
J: Restrain your physical abilities…
E: And restrain your words. BUT it’s okay to be mad, and say you’re mad, and say why. Just try not to let your anger take you over.
J: Sometimes that can be hard with family.
E: Very hard. Not all arguments can be prevented. But you can go back later when things have cooled off and apologize, and you can still have your own feelings.
J: What do you mean by “have your own feelings”?
E: I mean your own stance on subjects. You can have your own thoughts and feelings about things. I don’t have to be a nice girl and agree with everyone. I always try to avoid arguing. But that doesn’t mean I agree with my sister 100 percent. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree. That’s okay. We can still be friends.
J: I wish more people saw it that way.
E: At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself. You know the difference between right and wrong. If you do what’s right, that’s good moral character.
J: It seems like some people don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong.
E: Then it’s time to learn. Start with the Dojo Kun!
By Jenifer Tull-Gauger