CHARACTER, as defined in Webster's New World Dictionary: "a distinctive trait, quality or attribute; an individual's pattern of behavior or personality; moral constitution; moral strength; self-discipline, fortitude; reputation."
If I were asked today what is the most important investment that a young person can make as they enter adulthood and venture into the real world of making a living, I would have to say that character is capital that should be established early and invested in often. Character, regarded as capital, brings a much surer yield of returns than any other form of investment in life. It is unaffected by panics and failures, fruitful when all other investments lie dormant and has as much promise in the present life as in that which is to come.
Benjamin Franklin attributed his success in the public eye, not to his talents or his communications skills, but to his known integrity of character. "Hence, it was," he said, "that I had so much weight with my fellow citizens. I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my point." There is no disputing that character creates confidence in every station of life and Franklin was a good example of that.
The higher walks of life are treacherous and dangerous; the lower ever full of obstacles and impediments. We can only be secure in either, by maintaining those principles which are just, praiseworthy and pure, and which inspire bravery in ourselves and confidence in others. When Stephen of Coloma fell into the hands of his base assailants, and they asked him, in derision, "Where is now your Fortress?" He boldly replied "here", placing his hand over his heart.
Strength of character, then, consists of two things -- power of will and power of self-restraint requiring for existence strong feelings and a strong command over them. Someone once said that deportment, honesty and a desire to do right carried out in practice, are to human character what truth, reverence and love are to religion, and I believe that to be true.
Oh sure, there are bound to be detractors and those who scoff at one's high standards of character, but it is not as much in their affected revulsion as it is in their wish to reduce them to the standards of their own degraded natures and vitiated passions.
That character is power is true in a much higher sense than the contention that knowledge is power. Mind without heart, intelligence without conduct, cleverness without goodness, are powers in one sense, but they are detrimental powers that lead without exception to failure and undoing.
Yes indeed, young people, investing early and often in your character as defined in the dictionary, is not only wise but essential. It is capital that costs nothing to accumulate. It pays huge dividends throughout your life...And you can take it with you when you go.
Hold fast to your capital -- your investments in character and principles. The biggest mistake anyone could make would be to compromise their capital by cashing in even a small portion of it. The long-term cost implications are just too great.
After completing the above post, I stumbled across some famous quotations on the importance of "character" that pretty much substantiate my thesis. Horace Greeley, a 19th century newspaper editor, once wrote: "Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, and only character endures." Then in about the same time period Thomas Babington MacCaulay came up with this gem: "The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."
And back even further in ancient times the Greek philosophers were waxing eloquent on the merits of character. Heraclitus said: "A man's character is his fate" and ever the dramatist, Euripides proclaimed: "Character is a stamp of good repute on a person." But it was good old Aristotle who best summed it all up with: "Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a person chooses and avoids. A good character carries with it the highest power of causing a thing to be believed."
Our latest in The "Word" According to Rosanne...
Lifting her empty wine class she announced: "My drink has evacuated (evaporated)!"
Trying to be helpful in proof reading what I have written: "Dick, you are disposing (transposing) your letters."