The Weekly Dream: In Search of Character
Good day all,
My life is beginning to take on some semblance of normalcy, so I am back in the saddle. I recently returned from the Dominican Republic, so I am rejuvinated. I will write about that experience in a later post and put pictures up.
While I was on holiday, I was able to do something I had not been able to do as much, and that is read for pleasure. I finally was able to read a book Garlin got for me last Christmas called “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. In it, he lays out a pretty convincing argument for environment over genetics.
In the book, Gladwell posited that people are situationally honest. He stated genetics accounts for a large portion of human behavior and is a key indicator of certain pre-dispositions. However, environment accounts for a lot of our personality. He noted experiments in Prison psychology, smoking culture, peer pressure and hysteria as evidence of the power of environment. Given the right context, it seems people are capable of anything.
This is a subject that has always fascinated me. I have written before on how important it is to control our internal and external environments. But when I read this, I began to wonder what the difference is between those who are situationally honest and those who are able to maintain their integrity in every environment.
I was thinking about Joseph and Daniel in the Bible as compared to Samson and King Saul. The former were taken from their families and homes, and taken to foreign lands, yet they remained unmatched in their righteousness and character. The latter on the other hand, were easily influenced, and in the end, it cost one his supernatural strength and the other his kingship.
The difference between these two different sets of people are their strength of character. If you have a weak spirit or character, you will compromise and rationalize to do things that are not right. You delude yourself. But if you have a strong spirit or character, even if the thing that must be done is difficult, then you will stay true to what is right and good.
Strength untried is not strength at all
When we are children, we learn quckly what is right and wrong. The word “sometimes” does not exist in the mind of a child. It is all or nothing. Black and white. As we grow older, we learn about shades of gray. So how do we build this strong spirit and iron character? First, we need to live to a standard that is higher than ourselves. We should love our principles and the code by which we choose to live our lives.
Next, we should prepare ourselves to pass life’s tests. I think character is the ability to do what is right even when no one is looking. That means when we are tested and presented the opportunity to do wrong or cut corners, we stick to our discipline. It is easy to be righteous among righteous men, but it is something totally different when it costs you something to stand apart.
We all know how hard it is for the majority of us to be good all the time, especially as teens and adolescents. I think the rapper Ludacris said it best when he said “Why is everything that is bad for me feel so good?” But there real consequences to compromise and that is the other side that is not shown. We will fall short at times, but as long as we keep at it, we will continue to be perfected.
As Jack Nicholson states in the movie The Departed “I never wanted to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me.” If you do not yield to your surroundings, then your surroundings will have to yield to the force of your personality. And that is when you start to exercise the power of God that lives within you-subduing the circumstances that surround you. I pray we all manifest this power this year and in the years to come.
Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas