We Cannot Take Character for Granted

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President Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden. 

This week with the president-elect’s lack of self control on full display. President Obama honored Joe Biden for his decades of public service and for his strength of character.

Here is an excerpt from his speech, “And through his life, through trial after trial, he has never once forgotten the values and the moral fiber that made him who he is. That’s what steels his faith in God, in America, and in his friends and in all of us. When Joe talks to auto workers whose livelihood he helped save, we hear the son of a man who once knew the pain of having to tell his kids that he lost his job. When Joe talks about hope and opportunity for our children, we hear the father who rode the rails home every night so he could be there to tuck his kids in bed.

When Joe sticks up for the little guy, we hear the young man standing in front of the mirror reciting Yates or Emerson, studying the muscles in his face, determined to vanquish a debilitating stutter. When Joe talks to Gold Star families who have lost a hero, we hear a kindred spirit. Another father of an American veteran, somebody whose faith has been tested and who has been forced to wander through the darkness himself and knows who to lean on to find the light. So, that’s Joe Biden, a resilient and loyal and humble servant. And a patriot, but most of all a family man.” (Time.com)

Everyday the onslaught of news and social media seems to be saying that character doesn’t matter. That there are no real consequences for selfish choices. So it is up to each of us to remind ourselves that character does matter. The fruits of the Spirit are the ones that we should be honoring: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. As Apostle Paul writes in Galatians: There is no law against such things.

Just when you think the pendulum cannot swing any further out on materialism and “I’m number one. Screw you,” it swings further out. The insults lobbed at Congressman John Lewis are another example (link to David Remnick’s article in the New Yorker).

I don’t know what kind of Inauguration is going to take place on January 20, but I hope it is dignified because it represents our country not just the newly elected President. I will not watch because I do not want to reward childish behavior with the thing the president-elect craves most–television ratings. I’ll use the time instead to stay focused on what really matters: community, family, friends, meaningful work and serving God.

If you want to learn more about character or looking for ideas for teaching character to your children or students, check out Tiffany Shlain’s excellent resources at http://www.letitripple.org/films/science-of-character/.

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