No matter what you did when you were younger, and no matter how you got where you are today, you are forever known by your character and principles. Whether you’re working at a diner on 57th, folding clothes at the local laundromat, or working a white collar job on Wall Street, over the course of your life your character defines you and your principles guide you.
If you look up the definition of character you will find that it is ‘the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing’. Your character is defined by your moral or ethical quality. You have a choice whether or not to build a strong character or to simply let it all go. While your character defines you, you are still the writer of that definition.
When I was a teenager I could have fallen in with the ‘wrong crowd’. There was plenty of temptation and I had ample opportunity, but I didn’t. I chose not too. I chose not to associate with people that would have been a detriment to my character. Although it affected my reputation in school, it’s a choice I have appreciated making ever since.
When I worked at the detention center in Las Vegas, there was a written policy that we could not associate with people of ill-repute. I took that to mean anybody that I knew had a record or was involved with anything that might reflect on my character if I was known to associate with them. I had strong principles at the time and that policy was never a problem for me. In a way, I had already been living that policy for years. By the time I was hired for that job those principles were already embedded in my character.
The famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once said, “Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids”.
If you find that a friend of yours has done something completely reprehensible, his character is defined by his choices and actions. His circumstance does not define your character, but your choice whether or not to continue to associate with him does. It’s up to you whether or not you allow his actions to tarnish your character.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing”.
You may have a strong character and feel you have made the right choices, but your reputation could be saying something completely different. People may see your actions in a different light because of those choices you made. No matter how they view your reputation, it wouldn’t look that way if your character was not casting that shadow in the first place.
Years ago, when I was living south of Las Vegas, I was living in an apartment building where I helped the manager with odd jobs. I did not know that she had a questionable character or that my association with her (and her lies) would lead to my reputation and character being questioned. After several months I was able to prove my innocence and begin restoring my reputation. If I had paid attention to my character I could have prevented that shadow from being cast altogether.
A lot was happening in the world when I was 8-years-old, arsonist Peter Dinsdale set his first fire that killed a 6-year-old boy in England, leftist terrorists bombed ITT in New York City, William Ayers and the Weather Underground bombed the Pentagon, and O.J. Simpson became the first running back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. My character, as a 43 year old, tells me to stay away from all of these people even though they committed those acts when I was only eight years old.
It’s a known fact that Barack Obama (as an adult) had an association with William Ayers, the unrepentant domestic terrorist. Ayers and his group, the Weather Underground, bombed the New York City Police Headquarters, the U.S. Capitol building, and the Pentagon. As recently as September 11th, 2001, William Ayers said he didn’t regret setting the bombs, and he felt that the Weather Underground did not do enough.
Does it matter that Barack Obama associated with this man? Does his association with Ayers reflect on his character? It sure does. Depending on your character you may not think it’s a big deal, but character is the primary issue in every election, especially when we are choosing the next President of the United States.