I am not speaking of "A" character but of personal character.

In the past couple of generations we seem to have lost the value of having a good character. True in the United States and true in Europe, however, I think we in the USA have lost our sense of character more rapidly than the Europeans have.

CHARACTER: [definition] Behavior typical of a person, moral strength or quality.
The aggregate of features and traits or virtues that form the individual nature of a person. Qualities of Honetsy, Courage and Integrity.

There are six (6) recognized Pillars of Character: 1) trustworthiness,  2) respect for self and others ,3)  responsibility ,4)  fairness, 5)  caring and  6) citizenship.

Some that may be added to that list include diligence, a work ethic, kindness and self control.
Doing the 'right thing' when no one is looking.

We are engulfed in a world of anger, rudeness, selfishness, disrespect, dishonesty and an increasing prevalent attitude of me first, the heck with you.

Our youth have not been taught to respect their elders, their parents, figures of authority and even themselves. They feel no guilt in lying or even stealing. They admire rude behavior and go to extremes to affect an aura of not caring about anything. A marked evidence of loss of values.
Every once in a great while I meet a teenager or young person who is respectful and helpful and I am surprised as that is not the norm.
These rare human beings are usually either from the farm/ranch or have had a strong Christian upbringing or both.
Both of these environments stimulate a sense of responsibility and caring along with respect. Respect for themselves, their parents, others and others property, kindness and trustworthiness. Most have a grounded work ethic, especially the ones from an agrarian background.

Developing character begins at birth. If the parents do not have good character and demonstrate those qualities at home, then the child will not have a role model to follow. The 'imprinting' begins immediately.
If the parent presents themselves to the public, at work and to others as a person of 'character' but acts like an animal at home, the child will assume that rude behavior is the norm.

A Christian upbringing will automatically stimulate positive character traits as that is what the Bible and God teaches and desires us to develop and follow. In some respects, it is His law, ie: honor thy mother and father; do not bear false witness;, do not covet, do not commit adultry. Please note, I said stimulate, not guarantee!
And Christ's teachings in the New Testament expound on these basics with the "Golden Rule" Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, care for the poor and care for the sick etc.
This has nothing to do with religion, it is just good sensible instruction.
However in the church environment it is reinforced by the entire organization with strong elements of respect for authority.

William Clements (Mark Twain) said many years ago, that no man's education is complete until he has read the Bible. Mr Clements was not a particularly religious man, but he was very smart and demonstrated an unusual amount of common sense.

The increased incidences of road rage, teenage suicide, school tragedies, attacks on parents by their children and a decrease in honesty and integrity in our young people are all the result of loss of character.
The people responsible for the collapse of Enron, the debacle of the housing loan collapse through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the reprehensible behavior of many of our congressmen and women and other elected officials (judges and presidents)  are directly the result of poor character.
Please note, this is the 'short' list, I could enumerate hundreds of people, businesses and government agencies who have and do operate in a cloud of dishonesty, deceit, greed, rudeness and a general lack of concern for the harm and injury their actions cause on those dependent on them.

If we continue to fail to instill the qualities of good character in our children, our society will, sadly, continue to deteriorate.

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