Character = Integrity * Courage
Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 29, 2011
I resolve to focus on character more than reputation, knowing that character is who I am and reputation is only what others say that I am.
“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” – Abraham Lincoln
Character is that special quality, that makes men and women, who have it, appear larger than life. Character is more than just what a person says or does, rather, it’s what a person is. Words like honorable, honest, trustworthy, dutiful, and fidelity, describe the person with integrity, in any field of endeavor. But character moves beyond integrity, since integrity is ‘not doing wrong,’ while character is moves beyond that into ‘doing right’. For example, if someone is picking on little Billy at school, but a person didn’t participate, then he displayed integrity by not doing wrong. But to display character, a person must move beyond integrity, having the courage to defend young Billy against his oppressors, risking his personal peace and affluence for the sake of justice. In other words, integrity refuses to do wrong, but character is more demanding, expecting people to have the courage to do right. By helping Billy, a person moves from integrity to character through his display of courage. John Wooden, one of the all-time great basketball coaches, and life coaches, said, ““Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” Character then, if displayed as a mathematical formula would be: Character = Integrity * Courage. If one doesn’t have integrity, then displaying courage doesn’t give him character. For example, many bank robbers had courage, but not integrity, thus not character. But, one can also have integrity, but no courage, thus lack character through not standing up for principle when required by justice. Character, in other words, requires massive courage to ‘do right,’ especially in the current pragmatic culture that expects timidity, even when gross injustices are routinely performed. Most people will mind their own business, leaving the oppressors a free hand to abuse the victims, but people of character will have none of this. As Reverend Martin Niemoeller, a Nazi prison camp survivor, said, “First they arrested the Communists – but I was not a Communist, so I did nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats – but was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then they arrested the trade unionists – and I did nothing because I was not one. And then they came for the Jews and then the Catholics, but I was neither a Jew nor a Catholic and I did nothing. At last they came and arrested me – and there was no one left to do anything about it.” Character is essential for all true success, for without it, nations, corporations, charities, and families are destroyed. God Bless, Orrin Woodward