Cultural Character Traits
by Ron Kurtus (revised 13 November 2013)
Cultural character is one of the three major character types. It refers to following the rules, laws, or codes of a group or organization of which you are a member. Cultural character traits are important in being accepted in a group.
People who follow cultural rules, religious commandments and government laws are considered to have good cultural character. They are also considered good people. Those who do not follow the rules are considered law-breakers, trouble-makers or sinners. Their character is said to be immoral, unethical, or corrupt.
Questions you may have include:
- How are cultural rules related to character?
- How is following religious rules related to character?
- How are government laws related to character?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Cultural rules concern those within your ethnic group, cultural community, or even family.
Those who are caught breaking the rules are thought poorly of by other members of the culture. In some cases the person may be punished.
If you believed in the rules of your culture and you break them, you may feel guilt and remorse. You may feel that your cultural character is less than what it should be.
Examples of rules
Some cultural rules include:
- You must not marry someone outside the culture
- Stealing from members of our group is not allowed
- You must take the vow of silence, if arrested
- Honor your union brothers
- Friday is casual day
Most religions have a set of rules or commandments that members are expected to follow. Often these rules overlap into cultural and government areas.
Those that are caught breaking those rules are often shunned or even punished by the religious community.
These people believe that those who break the religious commandments will be punished by their God.
Religious followers who break the rules often feel guilty and thing they have a lower religious character. They feel like "sinners" because of their actions.
Examples of laws
Some religious laws include:
- Do not worship false idols
- You are forbidden to eat pork
- Do not have indecent thoughts
- Do not work on the holy day
- Honor your parents
- Do not kill (also a social and government law)
- Lead a chaste and decent life
- Pray five times a day
You are required to follow the laws of your community, state and national governments.
Obeying government laws is motivated by a desire to avoid the consequences of breaking a law and getting caught. But there are some people who obey the laws because they feel it is the "right" thing to do.
If you get caught breaking the law, a government agency will punish you. If other people find out that you do not obey the laws, they will consider you as having a law-breaker character. Of course, some laws are judged as more serious than others. Murder is much more serious of a crime than driving over the speed limit.
On the other hand, if they see you going out of your way to obey the law, they will consider you having an admirable, law-abiding character. You may also be proud of your good character.
Examples of laws
Most laws and rules are stated in the negative sense, telling what you cannot do. Typical government laws include:
- You must not drive over the speed limit
- You must not steal (also a religious and social law)
- You must not loiter
- You must not become drunk in public
- You must pay your taxes
Cultural character refers to following cultural rules, and religious commandments and government laws. Those that follow the rules are considered to have good cultural character. Those who do not follow the rules are considered law-breakers, trouble-makers or sinners. Their character is said to be immoral, unethical, or corrupt.
Obey the law
Resources and references
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