Thursday, November 16, 2006

Character-spotting ..... Take 1 by Louis Evan Palmer

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There are always stories that make one think of character - that elusive quality which we value and seek but typically understand only in an oblique way especially given that we don't really think about it much or deeply. Maybe we should.

For example - there's a current story about a young celebrity singer who's recently divorced from a less well-known former dancer / would-be singer. They have two children. The former dancer also has two children from a previous marriage. He and she are their twenties. Apparently, he has threatened to make public a private sex tape they made in the first few weeks of their marriage unless paid a huge sum of money and granted full custody of their two children.

If this doesn't make you think of character then nothing will. That one can have two failed marriages and four children and still be in your twenties, does not speak well about oneself. People have to assume there is cause and the cause when boiled down to its essentials will have something to do with character.

Examining this concept, we find that one of the key aspects of character is steadfastness - to most people, character does alter when things get unpleasant or difficult.

This forces us to acknowledge that pure stubborness is not necessarily reflective of good character. An unwillingness to change one's mind is also not an attribute. Thinking about the reasons why we would consider this true leads us to the assertion that the motivation and intention of a person is pivotal when considering a person's character.

Using the previous example can make it easier to see various aspects of character.

One - taking something that's private and using it for personal gain. We instinctively feel this is wrong because we value our privacy and we trust those with whom we are sharing. To most of us, a person of good character does not violate our privacy and does not cause us to no longer trust a given person. Expressed in an very old-fashioned way: they honour us and their relationship to us.

Two - using threats and demands for money in the context of the custody of children is crass. We value children and feel they should be protected and assisted consistent with their proper development. To most of us, a person of good character does not use children as pawns in other personal disputes and never as the reward from a threat. Expressed in a an old-fashioned way: we honour our children and their relationship to us.

Three - being responsible and dependable is a mandatory requirement. Without getting into any specifics - to not be an active participant in the support of one's family either financially and/or personally is not acceptable. The exact arrangement of duties and responsibilities is up to the individual family and is not tied into percentages of this or that. However, having one party free-loading off the other party is repugnant to most people. Expressed in an old-fashioned way: we honour ourself, our relationship to our family and our duties and obligations.

Four - wanting the best for oneself, one's family and others. A person of good character is not out to hurt anyone. They want to help as much as possible and appropriate but their main focus is to fully meet the obligations they have and then go from there. They are not selfish or greedy. An avaricous capitalist is not a candidate, nor is a vengeful commissar. A person of good character does not kill or steal or cheat or slander. Expressed in that way that harkens back: we hounour our world, other people and our relationship to it.

To sum up on this first take: a person of good character honours themself, their family, their friends, and their world by trying to do their best, help, meet their obligations, progress and strive for understanding and compassion.

Character spotting, take 1, louis evan palmer, the way it can be,

Copyright Louis Evan Palmer 

He lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications. 


1 comment:

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