Society has evolved in such a way that skill and ability of a higher order are almost commonplace. There is a greater ease with which men and women are able to paint, dance, create, run, and do virtually anything. We even have a plethora of videos and articles that encourage us to “be the best versions of ourselves” to “break the limits” and all the other things you see in Nike commercials. In essence, sports persons, engineers, artists, businessmen, politicians and all the world, are operating at an exceedingly greater level than we have in years gone by, and by no means should this stop. However, I would like to address something that has not developed as expediently as everything else around us. Often lost in our pursuit for excellence, allow me to introduce a character to this storyline; character.
Yes, yes I did attempt a joke that may not have been very successful, but you get my point. It is not by chance that the word ‘character’ both refers to the mental and moral qualities of an individual (google with the definition) as well as a person in a novel, play or film (google my guru). While we are primarily concerned with the former definition, we may take a gander at a possible parallel between the two in the form of an analogy. For now we can agree that both meanings refer to who a person is.
Why is character important? Well, from the outset we see that it is a neutral term and one’s character can be either good or bad. So then the question should be, ‘why is good character important?’ Good character is what would have our politicians make promises and keep them. Good character is what would prevent shoddy and oppressive business deals. Good character is what would (as corny as this sounds) bring an end to crime and war. For entangled in a person’s character are the virtues of integrity, love, honour and a host of other desirable qualities. It does not mean that the other negative qualities do not exist but rather, that within such a person a daily battle is won.
You may say “That’s all fine and dandy in theory but the world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” And you would be correct. I am not at all saying that the world can magically become this Utopia where, we all hug and sing like teletubbies. Evil is real and shows no signs of slowing down in its rampage. What I am suggesting, is that if we, the people of today, seek to be men and women of good character and develop our morals and integrity as much as we do our skill, we can take more rope from the clutches of evil in this eternal tug-of-war between light and darkness. Let us be as concerned with a man’s heart as we are with his ability. Let us promote in our educational programmes the importance of ethics and morals, in a meaningful rather than flippant manner. Slowly but surely we can change, not just what the coming generations see, but who they become.
As stated before, your character is who you are. And this is something that transcends religion, culture and society. Beyond the grey areas that exist, we all agree that things like murder, theft and deceit are wrong and that honesty, love and integrity are good. I therefore implore us all to not only work on being of good character, but to support and encourage those who emulate such virtues in all industries and walks of life. We all have often faltered in this area and put it on the back burner to facilitate ‘innovation’, I myself the veritable “chief of sinners”. Now, we must see to it that we combine craft and character.
Now do not think that I forgot my analogy. Here it is:
“A man must refine his character, else he risks becoming yet another character on life’s stage, doomed to play an abominable role for the rest of his life.”