What Characters Teach Us about Character

Character is that which defines us; it's what people will remember about us long after we're gone. The TV News, Radio Talk Shows, News-Magazines and the daily Paper are replete with stories about characters. [My favorite short story/play of all time was written by the great Italian Poet Luigi Pirandello ? "Sei Caratteri in Cerca di un Autore" or "Six Characters in Search of an Author."] These characters come in all sizes, hail from different parts of the country and can be found in many institutions. You may have known them as once successful businessmen, politicians, doctors, and lawyers or so called sports heroes. Temporary success is their common bond, as is total disregard for ethics or for other people.

These characters would have you believe that character doesn't matter. You've heard the expression: "If it feels good, just do it." This is the character's mantra. This statement would make sense if we add on the Jeffersonian clause "?provided it doesn't interfere with the freedom or rights of others." Whenever one takes action which infringes on the freedom or rights of others it is necessarily wrong. So why is it then that so many characters deny the obvious? Power, blind ambition and/or money is the answer. Shakespeare made a career writing about characters who rose to lofty positions or aspired to, taking whatever means necessary to achieve their nefarious ends. In each case however, they fall faster than they rose and bring shame and ridicule to their families or worse. Shakespeare's characters might be regarded as role models for today's characters. Once one loses the trust of others it is very difficult to regain that trust and he or she becomes ostracized. Aside from serious jail time most industries have strict prohibitions preventing the criminal from even attempting a come back. Think about some of these fellows. When their names are tossed about are their achievements the first thing that comes to your mind or is their infamy?

Being a man of good character sometimes means not doing what you would like to do or doing whatever feels good but rather it requires you "do the right thing." The right thing is often difficult and sometimes separates you from your friends. Being an individual of good character distinguishes you however, it tells the world you are strong and courageous and not shy about rising above the crowd. A man of good character doesn't shirk responsibility. He leads by example and is admired and respected by others. A man of good character can look himself in the mirror morning and night and be proud. Choose to distinguish yourself from the crowd for as Paul Newman, actor and humanitarian said: "If you don't have enemies, you don't have character." To learn more about me visit my website lunchbagnotes.com.

Ann Marie is a recent graduate of Cal Lutheran University. She majors in elementary education and expects to begin a teaching career in the fall. She is also the co-author of two books and has written several articles on the parent-teenager relationship.

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