Being a Character of Character
A child starts as a blank piece of paper. Things are written and erased, rewritten, crossed out, and written again.
Myths and legends, once believed as factual, are revised and sent to the basement of our memory. Childhood fantasy, innocence, and gullibility replaced by reality, reason, and experience.
Yet no matter how well these vestiges are erased or covered over, they remain embedded in our essence. They are the foundation to the genesis of ourselves as individuals. And as first impressions, they carry much sway over our lives and the character we exhibit.
An individual’s character is a blend of the earliest influences in our lives, geography, economic status, family. Later, the people we befriend or avoid, and the world situation, all blend to further refine our character.
A character cannot be labeled. Character is not conservative or liberal. Humans have this need to file everyone else under a convenient simple label. Yet preserving, for themselves, the ability to hold convergent and divergent thoughts. All the world can be divided into two groups, those who oppose my ideas in toto and those who agree with my ideas in toto.
The problem with character is we keep redefining what it means.
Character is the acting in a manner so as to benefit without causing harm. The fact that we need locks and alarms illustrates the dearth of true character within us. Our daily lives are filled with laws, regulations, and artificial controls that speak of the absence of true character in man.
As one of the greatest inspirational humans of all time, believed by many a representative of God himself on earth, Zoroaster, said,
“Seek your happiness in the happiness of all.”
Character is living this ancient golden rule. We’ve known this all along, we’ve just never embraced it.
Many would argue that President Trump is a man of good character by virtue of his profession of love for America and by invoking the name of his god. I would argue this makes my point.
George Orwell, in a book entitled “A Collection of Essays,” wrote, “Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists—is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
In another essay, he added, “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”
The political characters of today wish to portray others, immigrants or foreigners, as dangerous as a way to improve their own position. To make their character seem brave and courageous. They, to borrow a phrase from Rudyard Kipling, like to paint others as “lesser breeds without the Law.”
On a hopeful note, the general character of man seems to be evolving to a higher state. Despite claims to the contrary, this is a less dangerous world than most would believe. Things are changing. But the evolutionary progress of character may take several unsuccessful turns before finding the true essence of character.
Until then, the true potential for a person of good character eludes us.