An Essay on Character
The power of character in a man or woman transforms their being into the essence of living.
A study of character throws up certain meanings; We think of “a character” as someone who shines and “arrests” our thinking by his unusual attributes. The Courts used to speak of “good character” as going in favour of the accused on trial and sentence. The character witness for the Defendant comes to mind. Characterful means an individual full of personality. Bad character is another legal term of old implying a very poor criminal record. The “character” of a school pupil’s marks meant his perseverance and pluck came through his papers. Finally character defines and delineates our worth in the deepest sense. Without character we are nothing and our salt will lose its taste.
2. The definition of character
Essentially to permit one’s character to be moulded in our formative years to create a profoundly well rounded and positive person. However intelligent a person may be and engaging his personality, it is his character which makes him memorable. Character is the demeanour as the old Judges would say. By character we achieve our goals and overcome our disadvantages. Above all it is character that takes us through adversity e.g. Douglas Bader RAF, Captain Oates of Antarctic and Anne Frank (Jewess died in the Camps Second World War) and of course Sir Winston Churchill himself, our War Leader who would never give up. Yet it is the unsung heroes who finally count. How often is a lifetime sacrifice made by an unknown – only God can observe such heroism distinguished by no fanfare. This coming through adversity is the sign of true grit and character. But is has to be repeated to the end of the road or the branch will wither on the vine.
3. The making of a strong character
Being prepared to go against the grain and not tow the line. But also wisely deferring to those above us in life and working to achieve our ends by consensus. Primarily being brought up to put others first in all aspects of our life. We cannot overestimate the overriding importance of education and family life. Each person has the spark within them in childhood. We only have to look at young children walking and talking. The question is has the flame of inspiration been lit from that spark in childhood. If so the flame will burn into adulthood. If the spark is extinguished a weak or negative character will result. With the flame burning the positive and strong character will be attained. Then the individual’s potential will be fulfilled and his character will emerge. One strong and right character will encourage others in schools and life. If the flame is not lit in childhood and youth the opportunity is lost and never likely to recur. The formative years are absolutely pivotal – if they are not properly directed and inspired irreparable harm is done.
4. The religious aspect of character
This is vital. Religion (Jewish, Christian and Islam) teaches the necessity of getting down to brass tacks and fundamentals. In other words you will never truly succeed in life without unrestrained commitment. Thus for me the flame which burns should be religious in the heart and soul of the particular man or woman. These three world religions are all based on contrite prayer and love of the one God. With this attitude born at school the individual will reach his objectives and aspire to greater. That is the essence of life.
5. Character and adversity
No one can know at the outset how life will unroll for a particular person. Each individual should be well balanced and equipped to deal with all life’s challenges and life for some of us may be quite troublesome and vexing. Do we have what it takes to think out the proper response and see it through? This is where a good education and proper teachers may be so beneficial in the long term. They will generate stability and security from which these later lifetime questions may be answered. Psychology is important and it is a great advance in knowledge but it will not teach you how to go into action. When it comes to moving forwards in our lives we have the great power and dictates of conscience. Our consciences based on analysis and conclusions are the basis of our decision making, whether we acknowledge it or not. Most if not all educated persons and the uneducated recognise the role of conscience and act on its dictates. Essentially mankind is well intentioned. Whilst an individual may be guided by conscience true Christian character requires something more: namely the driving force of the flame burning inside his soul to conquer life’s mountains of perplexity and bewildering choices.
We are studying character which is like the north face of the Eiger. It is very formidable and impressive if properly developed and written and spoken. Character gives the ultimate communicable meaning to the individual – his character is his talisman. Even if he is fallen his character shines through. If he attains the summit others will not see him he will be so remote yet he will survey all before him.