George Washington's character is revealed in many areas. He is attributed with bringing discipline to the undisciplined by refusing to relax his own moral standards. While Washington was not an angel of a man, often struggling to make decisions or making the wrong decisions, the fact remains that he knew and tried to reach high standards of morality. He knew he could not organize an army if the army was focused on other things.
For this reason, now the general and commander in chief, Washington addressed every aspect of soldier conduct, restricting and prohibiting "profane cursing, swearing & drunkeness" Additionally, he expected punctual attendance on divine service, to implore the blessings of heaven upon the means used for our safety and defence". He also forbade games of chance.
These might seem like no-brainers to us. We might consider some of their actions to be despicable. We might have thought that such traitorous, unhealthy, and immoral acts were more recent temptations for people. That George Washington, for example, had to make guidelines against exhibitionism for 18th century soldiers comes as a shock to those of us who thought higher moral standards were more prevalent then than now.
For us, sitting in a fourth grade classroom in Joplin, Missouri, there are definitely some standards to which we may aspire:
- Our language affects the culture around us.
- "Loose lips sink ships." We need to keep secrets to ourselves.
- Being under the influence of drugs (including alcohol) may not portray a person as sophisticated and proper.
- Cleanliness is necessary for the health and peace of the people who live around us. Nobody likes bad smells.
- Running around naked in public gets you noticed, but for the wrong reasons.