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What A Character

Originally Published Feb 4, 2009, 11:11am (Updated Feb 4, 2009, 11:11am)
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We all know this person. He or she walks in and the room immediately takes on a whole new air. Their personality drifts through the room like wildfire and all eyes are on them. It is almost like the old E.F Hutton commercial, when the room suddenly becomes silent and there is some inkling that a tip is about to be spoken. Whether it is their sense of humor, their athletic prowess, or maybe it involves other attributes that may not be favorable at all, we are all quick to make that age old comment…“what a character.”

Sometimes we seem to forget what real character is. The word can be used as a noun, verb or adjective and can have so many different meanings. But there is a huge amount of difference from the person who is a character as opposed to the person who has character. A person of character can actually walk into a room and never be noticed. They do not bring those things that the “what a character” types bring with them. There are usually no jokes, no raucous behavior, or bending of ears waiting on some prophetic statement that is about to be uttered. And while their entry may be silent, it does not take long to recognize these people once they make their appearance. They are people who display those traits that we all hope for, but seldom achieve.

They are the people who tell you something and you never think for a minute that they are telling you something that may not be true. They are the people who will call you their friend and prove it to you over and over during a life time. These are the folks who will run toward you and not run from you when you need a helping hand. These are the kind of people who care about people in their close circles and care just as much about people that they have never and will never meet.

These are the people who try to live their lives based on a series of attitudes that deal with words such as loyalty, faith, fairness. These are folks who look at country in terms that have nothing to do with geographic boundaries but have everything to do with boundless opportunity and gratitude. They look at compassion as strength and not as a weakness. These are the people who learned their greatest lessons with mouths closed and not open.

These are the folks who will stop everything that they are doing when a person their senior offers them some good advice. They actually believe that the golden rule is more than a lame slogan written only to be placed on the rear of a grade school measuring device. And while we sometimes look at people of character as being close to perfection, they actually look at themselves as being far from it. And, most importantly of all, these are the people who realize their greatest gift to their children is the passing on of these ideals. They realize that it can sometimes take years and may never be perfected. Good character is a lesson that needs to be studied on a daily basis. These are the folks who also fully realize that no matter how much they preach the importance of good character, their words will be wasted if not accompanied by their own actions and examples.

The truth is that we now live in a time where character is most often referred to in fictional terms based on the portrayal of a character, rather than actual character. We seem to celebrate those things that deal with character which most often leads to negative ramifications yet we seem to ignore those character traits that we all know that we should strive to achieve. Honesty is often less important that dishonesty. Fidelity is much more boring than adultery. Hard work is looked at as unimportant or unnecessary, and no work is often rewarded with undeserved gifts.

The depiction of character and how we view it will continue to evolve in a manner that is most convenient to those who wish to present themselves as a person of character. But, the true definition of character will never change. It requires the same effort from each of us and is totally blind to human factors such as race, sex, or religious connotations. It sometimes may be hard to describe but when you are exposed to it, there is no doubt about it. If you do see it, stand as close as possible and pray that just a smidgen might rub off on you.

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