We Cannot Take Character for Granted

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/.

What if I Won the Lunch with Obama??

obama-hopeI know I have about as much chance of winning a lunch with President Obama in Chicago as I do winning the lottery with a ticket. I have been a sucker for this fundraising strategy since 2008. This time responding to the DCCC email, I felt a certain thrill. What if I actually won. What would I ask him? What would I say?

I would have to work so hard to ground myself and maintain my voice. What next?

First, I would thank him for withstanding so much ridiculous criticism with grace, for serving with such intelligence, and for being a great role model for leadership.

Then I would ask him how he avoided burn out working so long and hard as President.

What are some of the surprising leadership lessons he learned in the White House?

If he could go incognito anywhere in the world, where would he go? What is his idea of a perfect day?

What did he read on his vacation? What does he look forward to reading in January?

I’m not sure what I’d want to share. I believe I’d be happy to just enjoy the conversation. With my adrenaline surely pumping, how would I remember it?

What would you say or ask if you won?