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  1. 1. Character “Men of genius are admired. Men of wealth are envied. Men of power arefeared. But only men of character are trusted.” - Arthur Freidman I have the highest regard for my not-very-autocratic father. He is a greatadvertisement for ethical values. People love to be associated with him for thesheer person he is. Any adjective would fall short in describing his highly morallife. He carries himself with unmatchable élan. He has vistas of the future. I amfortunate to have a father of such supreme character. He may not always bephysically present with me, but his inspirational ideas are firmly rooted in mymind. I have no compunction in claiming that whatever little success I haveachieved today is only because of him. Lord, I am always beholden to you. Just as a foundation is the essence of a building, likewise character is thedetermining factor of a person. Here “foundation” is used as a simile for“character” and “building” for a “person.” Your character is the net worth ofqualities that epitomize you as a person. It is your moral principles, your feelings,your desires, your conduct, your thoughts…to put it simply, it is YOU (your entireself). It is your character—and your character alone— that will make your lifepleasurable or unpleasurable. Character can either make you or break you. Thecharacter traits you develop and possess will guide your actions and chart ourfuture course. A good character is a feather in one’s cap. The trueness of character lies in the inner core of a person. Status does notdetermine your success or failure. Your merit is assessed only on the basis of yourcapabilities. Having said that, each individual— whether noble or ignoble, strongor weak, learned or uneducated, physically fit or disabled—holds within him theseeds of greatness. It only depends on its “proper execution.” This is where thechallenge lies: many people sneeze at their own talents. Thank heavens! I do notbelong to that category. Over to you! Good character I have done panoptic research on younger and older men who marrysingularly beautiful women only to realize that they had married a pretty face thatlacked character. I can provide you with dozens of instances of the heartaches such
  2. 2. stupid choices have caused. I am not belittling beauty, but cautioning you thatphysical attraction alone does not provide a very solid foundation for marriage. AsSolomon said, “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman who iswithout discretion.” I agree with this unambiguous saying. I second it. Unfortunately, many young women marry men who are handsome, rich,or popular, and then, become grumpy that they have married bastards. It is nosurprise that these couples divorce after some months of marriage. Young women,which would you prefer—a man with an impeccable character or a handsome manwho has no moral values? Handsomeness is temporary, but character is everlasting. A person with good character is one who walks on the honest path in life.It does not count if another person is not doing the same; it counts if you are notacting honestly. It does not count if another person chooses to engage in cheaptalk; it counts if you choose to engage in gobbledygook. It does not count ifanother person chooses to lacquer over his mistakes; it counts if you choose tomask your mistakes. It does not count if another person chooses to do someconniving; it counts if you choose to get involved in shenanigans. It does not countif another person chooses not to nourish the hope of building a good reputation; itcounts if you choose not to build a good name. In short, people of good characterare little bothered by what others do. They self-evaluate a lot and mind their ownbusiness. Character flaw We cannot escape the obvious question: can we claim to be perfect inevery way? Nope. It is almost impossible to find even one person who is notflawed in some way. By those standards, we all have flawed characters. Perhaps, itis not realistic to expect to have a flawless character. A character flaw is apersonality defect that brings disgrace and guilt. Consider a major flaw like aferocious temper—it creates a black mark on our character. Our reputation, builtthrough years of labor, is torpedoed. The key is to make a long and determinedattempt to lessen our flaws. As we reduce our flaws to a negligible proportion, wetend to improve as individuals. Many people sham to be individuals of good character. They try to getin the good graces of people. They act nice and sweet. On closer inspection,however, one can discover that there is decay in their moral standards. Theycamouflage their tawdry secrets. They are misleading demigods to people.
  3. 3. However ultimately, situations lead to their unmasking. The world comes to knowabout their seedy character. All bad things should come to an end, and so they will. Pointers for parents to build a child’s character (1) Intersperse praise with constructive criticism. (2) Create a thoughtful atmosphere at home. (3) Spy on what your child is looking at on the Internet. Remember, scads of teenagers have fallen prey to something called “sexting.” It involves sending suggestive or sexual images through mobile phones, which can then be posted on the Internet or forwarded to other people. (4) Give equal emphasis to intellectual and moral development. (5) Document each step of your child’s development. (6) Insulate him from the disturbing news in the mass media. (7) Teach him to behave with proper manners. (8) Shore up his confidence when he is feeling low. (9) Do not coddle him too much. Expose him to the real, tough side of life. (10) Give him creative freedom. (11) Teach him proper money sense. (12) Say “No” to severe punitive measures. (13) Play “Call of Duty” and “Ultimate Alliance,” games about superheroes, with your child. (14) Do not compare your child with his counterparts. (15) Kindle his interest in best-selling books like Mr. Gum and Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton, Just William by Richmal
  4. 4. Crompton, Mary Poppins by Travers, and Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit. Importance of character There is a phrase that goes like this: “A tree must be bent while it isyoung,” which implies that you cannot teach new tricks to an old dog. If you wantto teach something to somebody, start when he is young. It is always easy to plantgood, newer and newer ideas in the malleable minds of children. The character of a person is dependent on the social environment, whichincludes parents, friends, teachers, and the people around us. For example, take theindividual cases of Esmeralda and Bethany. Esmeralda had the privilege of beingborn to caring and responsible parents. They inculcated a strict code of right andwrong in her. On the other hand, Bethany grew up in a turbulent atmosphere. Shereveled in the company of people who lacked social graces. Now, do you expectthe character of Esmeralda to overlap with that of Bethany? Not even a distantpossibility. The spotlight is always on us In more ways than one, the spotlight is always on us as far as our morals,ethics, and responsibilities are concerned. Consider this scenario: an elder brothertells his younger brother that pornography subverts young minds. But the irony lieshere: in the middle of the night, when his family is deep in sleep, the elder brothersurreptitiously opens his laptop and browses through porn sites. He himself has alecherous mentality (a satyr). Hypocrisy! Let us practice what we preach. Let ouractions match our words. There should be no cloak of secrecy around our actions.We are always accountable to God. Omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient Godoversees our activities. Therefore, let us do nothing wrong that will cause us tosink into a miasma of despair. Be true to yourself and to God. Adversity builds a person’s character As a child, Connor lived in one of New York’s poorest ghettos. He lost hismother when he was just two years old. From then on, his father raised him singlehandedly. When he reached 19 years of age, by the strange irony of fate, he lost hisfather too. A huge abyss, so to speak! Stress kept mounting in his mind, so much
  5. 5. so that he fell into a clinical depression. His neighbors immediately rushed him to anearby general hospital. A reputable, personable psychiatrist treated him privatelyfor months without charging a penny. Finally, upon being discharged from thehospital (after all his psychological wounds had healed), Connor headed straight tohis neighborhood in the ghetto, but what he saw was a new, squat-shaped building.He was numb with shock, as it meant he had no shelter and would be forced to livein public parks or in gas station restrooms. He started traipsing from place to place,looking for a job. He experienced a lot of difficulties in job hunting (his lack ofeducation became an obstacle in finding a job), but he did not throw in the towel.One day, he did get a job in a nightclub in New York, but it paid low wages, whichmeant a hand-to-mouth existence for him. After working for 17 years in thatnightclub, he developed the financial capability to open a small nightclub himself.He worked very hard, and in nine years time, he had earned so much money that hecould afford to open a large, high-class nightclub. A big venture like this translatedinto bigger profits. With his financial insecurity gone, Connor is now having thetime of his life. In a line, he rose like a proverbial phoenix from the ashes. Moral of the story: no matter how bad the circumstances may be, youshould never buckle under pressure. Be kind enough to give yourself chances tosucceed. With enough self-belief and considerable efforts, miracles can happen. Character and integrity “The bedrock of character is integrity.” - Richard G. Scott As generation next’s greed grows, many people fall into deplorable money-making ways. They want to become rich by hook or by crook (materialistichedonism). Money means everything to them. But what they do not know or tendto be blind to is that, in reality, when they walk on this path, moral soundness islost. Self-respect falls flat on the ground. Shame rules their lives. To sum up in afew words, weakness of character becomes an inevitable corollary of theirdishonest motives and activities. Unethical businessmen and over-the-top corrupt politicians may havesumptuous wealth. But of what use is it? They have scandals hanging over theirheads like clouds. They cannot walk tall with confidence and pride. Their guilt
  6. 6. complex leaves them high and dry. Without character and integrity, success ismeaningless. Be a person of the highest integrity. Keep your promise(s). Never let peopledown. Do not take shortcuts. Have a clear conscience. Always be in touch withyour moral values. The difference between a successful person and a successful human being Balthazar was the proud child of multimillionaire parents (his mother had two miscarriages before she gave birth to him). He had a heritage of affluence and social position. He was literally born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Each demand of his was met immediately. But he had some really serious gaps in his character—slangs, cornball humor, and two-timing had honeycombed his life. He also had long dank hair and an insolent look in his eyes. The only saving grace was his burning desire to succeed. After graduating with an M.B.A. from Columbia University, Balthazar decided to work in his father’s manufacturing company based in Cologne, Germany, making machines that churned out 60% of the world’s spark plugs. (In Europe, for example, manufacturing accounts for nearly a fifth of gross domestic product.) With a highly qualified staff to fall back on, Balthazar learned the minutiae of his father’s business. In no time, there was steep growth all round. Happy with Balthazar’s intellectual prowess, his father handed him three-quarters of the responsibility for the company. Grabbing this opportunity with both hands, Balthazar hired more innovative people, established good connections, and changed the economic landscape of his company. He himself became a multimillionaire within a span of five years. His name was included in the who’s who of top German businessmen. Undeniably, he became a successful person, but where did his original core elements go? They remained with him throughout his lifetime. A leopard cannot change its spots! From the viewpoint of those in the outside world, he was successful, but as far as his morality was concerned, he was a “fiasco.” Nicholas was a venerable medical practitioner in Norwich. He treated his patients with kindness and concern. His heart ached with pity for underprivileged people. The patients who visited him for their illnesses found solace and bliss in his company. Nicholas did clinical practice for 50 years, or thereabouts, and treated a galaxy of patients in the process. What everyone had to say about Nicholas was, “He was not just a humdinger of a medical practitioner but also a messiah of the poor. He was a man of substance and not
  7. 7. of the page three variety.” Well, today Nicholas is not here with us (he died atthe turn of the 20th century), but his deeds are unforgettable. Hence, after reading the above examples, we can conclude that becominga successful human being is far more important than becoming a successfulperson. If you ask me, I want my epitaph to read: “Here was a fella who waspunctilious in his manners and had insatiable curiosity.”