At our very center is something called character. Character has nothing to do with how pleasant we can be or how educated we are, or how faithful we are to attending religious services. Character is about who we are, whether or not we are honorable.
When I am with people who have honor, I am at ease. I can be myself; I am safe. My dearest friend, Elaine Thompson, is a prime example of someone with character, an honorable woman. When she says something, anything, I can bank on it. Elaine tells the truth, without regard for how it will sound, whether or not it will make her money, whether or not it is a popular view, whether or not anyone agrees. How safe I feel with her.
I sold Great Bridge Press some years ago to Clifton Weeks, a man of honor. We did write up a little agreement between us, but that was all. If any misunderstanding ensued, all I’d really have to do is ask him what he understood. Whatever that was, I’d be able to live with it because it would be fair. Clifton wouldn’t be a part of anything unfair—to either party.
That’s really what fairness, honor, character is all about. It works for everyone concerned. Rotary has a four-way test where two of the points address this very thing. They ask, “Is it the truth?” and “Is it fair to all concerned?”
People with character—good character—will live by honor and fairness. They do not have to stop and think very long about whether something is honorable or fair; the answer is at their very core. We really do know when we are in the presence of character. We may like someone without great character, we may play golf with, or sometimes even vote for someone without much character. But deep down, we know.
We really do know when we are in the presence of character.
We may like someone
without great character,
we may play golf with,
or sometimes even vote for someone without
But deep down,
When someone has a lapse of judgment and does not exhibit good character, they need to be forgiven. Since I am far from perfect and struggle, not always successfully, to be my highest self, I am very grateful there is forgiveness from my God and my fellow man. I think it is fair for us to be forgiven as we forgive others. But forgiveness is not the same thing as acceptance.
…forgiveness is not
the same thing as acceptance.
When we set our standards for ourselves, our children, for our business partners, and yes, for our leaders, we want character and honor. Nothing less. Don’t tell me it doesn’t exist.
We have become too cynical about politicians at every level. I once listened to Attorney General Mark Early speak in a meeting run by the Commissioner of the Revenue Ray Conner after being introduced by Commonwealth Attorney Larry Wills. These men may have differed politically, but each was honorable; each was a man of character.
There are people
all around us.
and holding them up
There are people with character, with honor, all around us. Let’s start acknowledging them and holding them up as examples. Let’s tell our children who to look toward for standards. Better still, let’s be that example.
Our only caution should be that no man, nor woman, holds the standard for character, for honor. When any one person fails, we can forgive without losing sight of, or lessening, the standard. If we can teach this standard to our children, all will be well.