In this reflection I am commenting on character as one of the attributes or qualities that make up and distinguish one individual from another person. Sometimes when we speak we refer to character as a trait or quality and other times we treat it as a moral code. We often hear people speak about others as having a good character or a bad character. Two local expressions are: 1. "He is a real bad egg," and 2."She is too prim and proper." When we consider a person to have a good chatacter, we are saying that the individusl has demonstrated traits like integrity, honesty, courage, loyalty, and fortitude in his/her behaviour. It is also important to pay attention to the pillars of character. Six of these are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Your character is who you are at your very core, that which comes from your heart and mind, the values and beliefs that are dear to your heart, the person you are when no one is watching you.
Abrsham Lincoln said: "Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it, but the tree is the real thing."
Sometimes we mix up what we call a good person with a good character. For example someone may give the church a donation when it is solicited in the presence of other people, but would not have given it if he were alone. Donating is a good act, the person also may be a good person, but the action may not be a good mark for his character. The donation was not given from the heart. Some people perform positive actions because they are influenced or pressured by other people. If a person has a positive character he/she would do the right thing because he/she believes it is the right thing to do and not because he/she is persuaded by someone else.
Today, we can observe in our community how young people in particular are influenced, persuaded, or even pressured to perform actions that they intrinsically do not want to do. Joseph Campbell reminds us: "Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself." While we can agree that the individual has to blame himself, we know there are situations where the individual is so overwhelmed, over powered by external influences that he cannot exercise the self-control to override the pressure. Such persons may be inspired by the words of Frederick Douglass: "I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence." One can be true to oneself for at its core, character occurs intrinsically within a person. Character is far above other factors like race, religion, education, and gender in determining how we respond to the tough situations which we are experiencing in our lives today. Many of our brothers and sisters fall down flat because they are motivated by external things which are always transcient. As Joseph Campbell said, "we're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value, that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive."
"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."
B. V. Islanders of yester- generations used to say"you cannot get to heaven on flowery beds of ease." You do not have to sell your birthright as Esau did. (Gen. 25:31-33).
Rather seek to transform your character like Saul the blood thirsty persecutor who became Paul, the tenderhearted brother. (Acts 9:1).
- Dr. Charles H. Wheatley