Moral intelligence is the compass that guides our choices, actions, and interactions with others.
And people with high moral intelligence contribute to a more just, understanding, and compassionate world.
Although it seems there’s a rising number of such high-quality people in today’s world, there are also evermore people without any moral intelligence whatsoever.
Nevertheless, let’s find out what traits people with high moral intelligence have and see if you perhaps qualify as well.
We have to start with integrity, right? It’s what sets honest and trustworthy people from the rest of society. Without people with integrity, we would be much worse off than we already are.
I’ll just mention two glaring examples of people with incredible integrity that didn’t step down even when faced with grave danger.
The first one is Malala Yousafzai, who, despite being attacked for attending school in her native Pakistan, continually stood up for girls’ rights to receive an education. Her courage and steadfast commitment to her cause show her high level of integrity.
The second example is Oskar Schindler. A German industrialist during World War II who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.
Despite the significant personal risk, he demonstrated immense integrity by standing up against the horrific treatment of Jewish people at that time.
These people also demonstrated the following trait.
2) Ethical reasoning
Ethical reasoning is making decisions based on our moral principles and values.
We carefully consider the potential consequences of actions, evaluate the fairness and justice of a situation, and determine what’s morally right or wrong.
Martin Luther King Jr., for example, employed nonviolent protests to challenge racial segregation and discrimination in the United States.
His ethical reasoning was based on equality, justice, and human rights principles.
3) Proactive ethical behavior
People with high moral intelligence often also exhibit proactive ethical behavior. Simply put, they take the initiative and actively engage in actions that align with their ethical values to contribute positively to society.
In my opinion, one of the best examples is Wangari Maathai, an environmental activist from Kenya and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
She founded the Green Belt Movement, focusing on tree planting, environmental conservation, and women’s empowerment.
Her proactive ethical behavior aimed to address deforestation, promote sustainable practices, and empower women to participate in environmental activism.
Through her efforts, she significantly impacted environmental preservation and social change.
4) Respect for others/tolerance
How much do you value respect for and from others? I’m guessing a lot. That’s because respect for others is one of the moral fibers of society.
Respect for others and tolerance involves valuing and accepting peoples’ differences, treating them with fairness and dignity, and embracing diverse perspectives.
The perfect example that comes to mind is Fred Rogers, also known as Mister Rogers. He was a beloved children’s television host who promoted kindness, acceptance, and respect.
Through his show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” he taught children the importance of treating others with respect and embracing diversity.
He also possessed the following trait.
Empathy helps us understand and share the feelings, perspectives, and experiences of others.
It’s a valued trait that still escapes too many people to this day and age. Without empathy, the world would be even crueler than it is now.
With so many great examples of empathetic people, I decided to highlight some lesser-known people that I only found out about a couple of months ago.
I already mentioned Schindler, but did you know there are others like him that weren’t publicized as much?
Irena Sendler was a Polish social worker who smuggled Jewish children to safety in WW2.
Then we have Nicholas Winton, a British humanitarian who transported 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to safety in Britain.
And lastly, we have Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat during WW2. As vice-consul in Lithuania, he issued thousands of visas to Jewish refugees, enabling them to escape Nazi-occupied Europe.
In my lifetime, I’ve met far too many people lacking complete self-awareness. They were, and still are, coasting through life, unaware of their values, strengths, or weaknesses.
On the other side, self-aware people are in tune with themselves and have a clear perception of their identity, motivations, and impact on others.
Brené Brown, for instance, is renowned for her work on vulnerability and shame. Through her extensive research and personal experiences, she has cultivated a profound level of self-awareness.
Her ability to explore and openly discuss her own vulnerabilities has allowed her to connect with others on a deep emotional level and offer insights into the human condition.
Although she is high-profile, she doesn’t lack this next trait too.
Humility is another trait that people with high moral intelligence possess. It’s all about being modest, recognizing your limitations without acting like you’re more important than them.
My favorite example is Keanu Reeves, who maintains a modest and grounded attitude despite achieving tremendous success in Hollywood.
We can often see him engaging with fans and treating everyone he encounters with respect and kindness, earning him a reputation for being one of the most humble celebrities in the industry.
People with high moral intelligence simply must be able to persevere and stay determined in the face of challenges.
Stephen Hawking is an example of a person with high moral intelligence who had to persevere his whole life.
Hawking was diagnosed with a debilitating motor neuron disease at a young age and faced significant physical limitations.
However, he persisted in his scientific pursuits, making groundbreaking contributions to theoretical physics and becoming a highly respected figure in his field.
His perseverance in the face of immense physical challenges serves as an inspiration to many to this day.
In my opinion, personal responsibility should be one of the foremost traits in everyone’s books.
If we aren’t holding ourselves accountable for our actions, choices, and obligations, how can we expect the same from others?
There are so many people that aren’t as widely recognized for illustrating the power of responsibility in driving meaningful change and taking action for the betterment of society.
One such person is Dr. Maria Montessori, who was an Italian physician and educator who developed the Montessori method of education.
She dedicated her life to creating an educational approach that nurtured children’s natural development and curiosity.
She felt a profound responsibility to provide children with an environment supporting their growth, independence, and love of learning.
To this day, children worldwide go to kindergartens and schools inspired by her teachings.
It’s clear from the example of Dr. Montessori above that open-mindedness is also a vital ingredient of people with high moral intelligence.
When I think of open-mindedness, I think of the willingness to consider new ideas, perspectives, and experiences without judgment or prejudice.
And one of the best examples is that of Carl Sagan. He was an astrophysicist, author, and science communicator known for his ability to engage the public with the wonders of the universe.
Sagan’s open-mindedness allowed him to explore complex scientific concepts while also considering their philosophical and societal implications.
His popularization of science and emphasis on critical thinking and evidence-based reasoning helped promote a more open-minded approach to understanding the cosmos.
Alright, we have two more traits to go.
I like to think that I’m treating all people equally fair. But let me tell you, it can be tough sometimes. I salute everyone that can stay impartial and just to everyone. Judges obviously come to mind immediately, although they can be corrupt too.
But one judge and a person of high moral intelligence that comes to mind is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She dedicated her career to fighting for gender equality and justice.
Her legal decisions and advocacy work contributed significantly to advancing the rights of women and marginalized groups. This ensured equal treatment under the law for everyone, at least on paper.
And last but not least, we have courage. Many examples I brought up in this article are also remembered for their bravery. But I’d like to highlight another person with high moral intelligence and a lot of courage – Rosa Parks.
Everyone has obviously heard of this prominent figure in the American civil rights movement. She’s best remembered for her remarkable courage.
By refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks ignited the Bus Boycott and became a symbol of resistance against racial segregation.
Her act of courage ultimately sparked a movement that would challenge discriminatory laws and policies forever.