'The content of your character'....I saw this sign on the wall of an elementary school yesterday, and it got me thinking about character.
I was brought up never to lie, cheat, steal, or be pretentious. My father was a proud bricklayer who with his brother built and sold a grand total of thirty nine houses before he stopped working. I remember when a woman he had sold a house to two years before called and told him her stove wasn't working. I could hear my father grumble about his integrity. "I won't have her thinking I installed a bad stove. I'll replace it if I can't fix it." End of story. He did not have to. He bought her a new stove.
That night at dinner my father reminded me that 'a person's good name can be lost in a reckless minute. All you have is your good name,' he told me. "Always protect it."
Sometimes I think my standards are too high and sometimes I think I fold when I should stand my ground. I'm not always sure. I know of an instance when I've leaned toward forgiveness when people who love me tell me I'm nuts. But I can't help it. If I love someone I don't do very well unloving. I end up just not understanding and my heart suffers. This is part of my character. I'm not a wimp, and just watch me reclassify someone who treats me or someone else badly, but I carry a loyalty that makes it hard to say goodbye, even when I should know better. I take pride in teaching my clients about 'positive terminations' and I know full well how important it is to end a relationship well if the relationship has to end, but the truth is I don't like the ending part much at all. I think most people do it with alot more grace and acceptance than I am able to muster.
So as I'm thinking about issues of character--my own in particular--my scientist brother sends me some examples, from author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia:
1. A four-year-old child, whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife: Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's' yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy just said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry.'
2. "On my way home one day, I stopped watch a Little League base ball game that was being played in a park near my home. As I sat down behind the bench on the first base line, I asked one of the boys what the score was. 'We're behind 14 to nothing,' he answered with a smile. 'Really,' I said. 'I have to say you don't look very discouraged.''Discouraged?', the boy asked with a puzzled look on his face. 'Why should we be discouraged? We haven't been up to bat yet."
3. Jamie was trying out for a part in the school play. His mother knew that he'd set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded she collected him after school and he rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement..'Guess what, Mom,' he shouted, 'I've been chosen to clap and cheer!'
You don't need me to spell out the lessons here. Most likely you already know them well. But a reminder never hurts. ♥