Letter: What character is?

POSTED: 11/2/11 11:59 AM

Dear Editor,

One dictionary defines character as “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person.” In another dictionary, character is said to be “the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her response regardless of circumstances.

Our character is who and what we really are. Abraham Lincoln said, “Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree.” Our character is not just what we try to display for others to see, it is who we are even when no one is watching.

Good character is doing the right thing because it is right. Everyone has character – good or bad. Character transcends race, religion, education, position, age, gender, and personality.

People sometimes think of character as something a person either has or doesn’t have. They may say, “He has character,” meaning he has good character. We intuitively recognize the truth that everyone has “character” and we distinguish between “good” and “bad” character.

Our character is what determines our responses. The dictionary definitions said, character is a “complex of mental and ethical traits” and that those traits, or qualities, are “built into an individual’s life.” It is those character qualities, those character traits that determine a person’s response in any given situation. For example, a person with a strong character quality of truthfulness is much more likely to accurately report the facts in a given situation than a person who is not a truthful person.

So, what are these character traits? What are the character qualities, or character traits, that make up a person’s character? How can they be built into a person’s life? Can they be changed? If you and I were each to make a list of good “character qualities,” or “character traits,” both of our lists would probably include such words as honesty, integrity, dependability, loyalty, enthusiasm, etc. Of course, there are many others that could be added.

How does character affect our lives? It has been said that character is the foundation for all true success. A person may have money, position, or power, but unless he has “good” character he or she is not considered to be truly successful.

How does character affect the world around us? The world needs better character! Today’s world faces many difficult problems. Escalating crime, drug and alcohol abuse, workplace violence, gang activity, vandalism, school dropouts, deteriorating work ethics, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, racial tensions, broken families … The list seems endless. At their root of all these problems spring out of the lack, or misapplication, of good character qualities.

If we are to find lasting solutions to the problems of our day, we must deal with these roots! We must work to improve our own character, teach good character to our children, and help those around us to improve their character! Character development is essential to the ongoing success of our society. That is why character education is so important. Character truly is the key to success!

St. Maarten people have been wonderful to me. God bless you, never give up and keep the faith. A leader of good character is on the horizon to turn and change this nation to a better direction. Do not let negative people make you believe things cannot get better. It will but the change must start with you.  I will take a break for a while. Happy St. Maarten Day, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Yours truly

Miguel Arrindell

The Patriot 

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