Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Importance of Character Building

Building character
"Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent," says writer John Luther. "Most talents are a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece-by thought, choice, courage, and determination."

Baseball great Roberto Clemente had a philosophy: "Any time you have the opportunity to accomplish something and you don't, you are wasting your time on this Earth."
He lived and died by his values: Clemente was killed in a plane crash on his way to deliver food to Nicaraguan earthquake victims.

For Jane Huggins, compassion meant not pushing her aging father to move into a nursing home before he was ready.
Family and friends told Huggins that her father needed help with everyday tasks.
"I felt challenged by the situation and found myself wondering what the most compassionate response would be," she writes. Huggins went back home to talk things over with her father.
In facing her father's old age and decline, Jane Huggins realized that she was starting to face her own fears. By appreciating the inevitable cycle of life, she felt relieved and better able to decide "that I would honor my father's wish to remain with his home until he was ready to leave it."

A heart murmur sidelined high school senior David Omin from basketball, but his sense of loyalty made him decide to keep attending games to give his team moral support.
"I felt so frustrated not being able to help out my team on the court," said David. "I knew if I couldn't be there, I'd be letting my coach and the other players down, so I felt obligated to stick with the game."
David learned there are certain things he can't control. But he can control his response. "Today when bad things happen…I don't get as disturbed. I focus instead on what I can do."

7,500 people in North America and Asia volunteered as potential bone marrow donors for Cindy Moy. Her family had asked for help for the leukemia patient, contacting bone marrow banks and organizing bone marrow drives.
A match with a machinist in Singapore gave her more time to spend with her family.
Though the young woman eventually died, her family said, "Cindy's spirits were constantly uplifted by the thousands of people who brought her great comfort in their get-well wishes." The Moys also hoped that leukemia awareness had been heightened and that "more people will…join the donor pool."

In Atlantic Monthly, Stephen L. Carter writes that honesty and integrity aren't synonymous. Integrity requires "discerning what is right and what is wrong; acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right and wrong."
Carter cites the example of a husband married 50 years who makes a deathbed confession of infidelity that occurred decades earlier. He unburdens himself, but at his wife's expense.
"Even though the husband has been honest in a sense, he has now twice been unfaithful to his wife: once 35 years ago, when he had his affair; and again when, nearing death, he decided that his own peace of mind was more important than hers."
Integrity implies that we give serious consideration to a particular matter and are people who can be trusted to keep our promises.

Perseverance is often a necessary and important value. Throughout history, we find examples of people who kept up the good fight, even when it seemed hopeless.

"It's important to know the real story of how change works, and recognize that to fall short of your highest goals is OK as long as you stick to the struggle," notes Colin Greer, co-editor of The Call to Character.
"The end of slavery. The early struggle against child labor. Women's suffrage. The organization of labor. People have forgotten what it really took to accomplish these things: what pragmatic things were done and how people learned to be generous and decent."

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