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Where do start? What is character? Why do we care? We will explore the answers below. But first, I want to ask, do you have any stories to share about character? How has good character helped you or how has bad character hurt you? It could be your personal experience or one that you observed.
Where do we start?
I like to start by looking at my character. Are the aspects of that I want or need to change? Do I lie? Do I follow through? Am I trustworthy? I try to spend some time thinking (or mediating) about where I am and where I want to be. Do I have any character traits that are impeding my work or other parts of my life. If there are, then these get addressed first. There are programs that teach character education. These are good for laying a groundwork to talk about character, but true character is not learned from a book.
What is character?
Forging character occurs in every decision and action that we make. Character is that part of us that helps do the right thing even when it is inconvenient or uncomfortable. There is no simple definition of character. Even the major dictionaries do not agree on a precise definition. We all have an idea of what good character is and what makes up bad character too. Getting to a common agreement on what it means is not simple. If we generally state that character is the sum of our life experiences that shapes how we respond to situations around us, that might do. Being gracious is part of it. Honesty and integrity are too. What do you think? What do you think it takes in forging character?
Why do we care?
Character is important. Why? Well for one reason, my grandparents and parents taught me that it is important. For another, society, expects that we behave within some framework that constrains our behavior to that which is acceptable to others. Forging character helps us be good people. People that help, People that give back to society. People that help influence and mold those around them be better individuals. The only way we can make the world better, is by making ourselves better. Emerson said,, “Men of character are the conscience of the society in which they live.” Are you a good conscience to people around you?
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