I love the celebration of Character Day: September 22, 2016. It is an opportunity to teach young people the exemplar’s of character. The Let It Ripple website offers inspirational films, periodic table of character traits, and other teaching tools. The social media campaign invites you to recognize people for their positive character attributes.
We are all a complex mix of positive and negative character traits. When we are young our parents, teachers and extended family help us to learn and shape our character–strengthening our positives and learning to control our negatives.
We can also learn from literature. The Lutheran Ladies Literary Club selected The Sympathizer, a novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, for August discussion. The main character is the Captain and as he explains it his only talent is being able to sympathize with both sides. He uses this talent to be a spy for the Viet Cong, appearing to be a loyal attache to a General in the National Army/secret police. The author is a genius because by telling the story in the Captain’s voice we also learn that he is willing to die for two childhood friends, is a loving son, and very intelligent. The novel challenges the idea that people are either bad ‘uns or good ‘uns. After all, the mark of a truly mature person is the self-awareness to know that we are all capable of great acts of love and despicable acts of selfishness. This awareness allows us to make the right choices and to have compassion for ourselves and others when they fall short.
Wishing you a happy September 22, full of great character. If you use Twitter, join the trend today: recognize a character strength in someone you know and include #CharacterDay2016.