There’s a huge debate about character happening in the world right now. It’s been largely brought on by Trump, and is somehow an issue that liberals and conservatives believe they have exclusive rights over.
Character though, is not dictated by party. In fact, many would argue that character is not something that should be tied to politics at all. At different points in my life, my character has been called into question, and I have questioned the character of others.
But, what drives character? That’s a really complicated question. Let’s first weed out what doesn’t drive character:
I believe that work ethic is generally a result of environment. You allow someone to explore their passion, and they will work hard. There are exceptions, I’m sure, but I’ve never seen one. The ‘laziest kid’ to ever attend my 18 & under events years ago ignited, and worked his ass off when given the chance. I have been lazy at times, but that’s just because I wasn’t moved by my circumstances. The trick is snapping out of it, which has more to do with will power than work ethic.
If I tell a joke you find offensive, that doesn’t mean I’m offensive. It means I offended you. However, humour is generally a construct of one’s sum total of experiences. If a joke is pointed at one person in particular or a group, and meant to cause harm; that’s a veiled threat. Humour itself does not determine the character of a person. Good people make bad jokes. But that’s a blip in time over an entire life. It’s what people do when they’re serious that we should be paying attention to.
Family & History
The sins of the father should not fall on the son, and the actions of a generation should not fall on the next. That’s setting someone up for failure, despite them having no input into the situation you’re condemning them for. All you’re doing is building negative character by not giving someone a chance to be their own person.
I have known some very charismatic people. Charisma is a trait you either have or don’t. It generally makes a person endearing to those around them, but is a characteristic that everyone from a narcissist to an introvert can possess. Generally, those who are jaded without charm speak negatively of charisma like it determines who a person is in their actions. I’ve found this can not be further from the truth.
Now, I know there are other examples, but these are the factors which come to mind that are confused with character.
So what makes character? I believe it comes down largely to actions and three factors:
How a person treats their partner
How a person treats those with less than them
This is the ability to fight through and endure. Will power is something that you need to succeed. Without it, you can’t pick yourself up when life knocks you down. Knowing someone has a strong will shows they can problem solve, self-sustain their drive, and it shows that this person is someone that can be counted on in times of crisis.
No matter what side of the aisle you sit, I don’t think anyone would suspect Barack Obama of cheating on, or otherwise mistreating Michelle. His actions, and their relationship clearly indicate a healthy relationship fuelled by equality. Trump though; you can see that he and Milenia have a less than equal relationship. If a cheating scandal came out, no one would be surprised. I believe that since your partner is the person you spend the most time with, how you treat each other is indicative of your character.
Those with Less
We’re all the rulers of some subset tribe in our own right. Even if you’re just the Ruler of the Office Watercooler, we all have a certain position in life. Those with a lesser position should still be treated as equals. A good measure of character is introducing a new person into a workplace. The one who greets that person first, and invites them out for lunch is often of solid character. The employees that make snide comments and demean are of weak character. Another example is a boss that takes time to mentor and get to know his or her staff. That’s good character. My last example is how someone talks about the homeless. If you look for solutions and feel empathy, you have good character. If you immediately default to “get a job” you have weak character, as you have no interest in circumstances.
Agree or disagree?
What do you feel makes up character? I’d love to hear thoughts on this subject.