Social Norms

Character and social norms

A good character is, to a large extent, made up of what people believe is good. Here is where social norms come into play.

Good and bad are defined by social and cultural norms and these definition change from region to region, generation to generation.

In India itself, there are many contrasting norms about what is acceptable and what is not. There are several different rules in each community and region to deal with norms of marriage, education, business dealings and so on. What one community considers a sign of strength and health, another may view as a mark of weakness and indulgence.

However, there are a few basic norms that most modern societies would agree to. For instance, all cultures agree that screaming at little children is not a good practice; in fact, it is a character flaw. It may not be against the law, but it is, nevertheless, a sign of weakness and lack of control. Similarly, not treating your parents with respect is not considered a virtue in any culture.

Also, there are some traits that would be respected as a sign of strong character across the world, irrespective of difference in norms. Standing up for the truth, for example. Fighting oppression or corruption, dealing with crises through compassion and patience, showing courage at all times, helping those who need help – these are all marks of good character.