The loss of characterYou can lose your watch, cellphone, driver’s license, a password for your computer, Rover and even your child temporarily in a grocery store, but never lose your character.
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
You can lose your watch, cellphone, driver’s license, a password for your computer, Rover and even your child temporarily in a grocery store, but never lose your character.
You can lose your keys, your car in a parking lot, your shirt in Las Vegas and even your new girlfriend to an old boyfriend, but never lose your character.
When I was growing up in my little hometown, a stone’s throw from the Montana and Canadian borders, there was a man, who after a few hours spent in the local tavern, regularly stumbled home, up Main Street, covering most of it from east to west while sauntering south, looking at us through glazed eyes, spewing out senseless babble and earning my boyhood bicycle gang’s boisterous ridicule.
It was this ridicule that my father overheard on one occasion and reprimanded me for participating in; which was, to him, a show of total disrespect for a former football star, a World War II veteran and a once proud member of a good family and community. Still, he’d soaked himself in enough alcohol to lose his character.
You see, character is a combination of qualities that distinguishes you from others, separate from ego or that exaggerated sense of self-importance leading to conceit.
So dump your ego quicker than a cheating girlfriend, but never dump your character.
“I won’t,” you say, but it’s easier to do than you think because thoughts quickly become words, words become actions, actions become habits and habits become character and it’s your character that determines your destiny.
In fact, the destiny of our previously mentioned friend, who’d given away his character, was to die at a very young age by over-medicating himself with alcohol, even at times mixing milk with whiskey to coax it past a bleeding ulcer. This was not his original destiny. Just the one he created.
“But my intentions are good,” you say.
Except intentions are worth about as much as melted ice in Iraq, cash on a deserted island, one beer at a wedding dance, three beef at a vegetarian convention and any promises made by politicians, simply because people judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold, but so does a hardboiled egg.
Joseph John Campbell, the American mythology professor, writer and orator said, “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
Yes, you are the answer but without character there is no answer.
Last Thursday night, a transient snuck into the Alive @ 5 street fair in downtown Dickinson holding a whiskey bottle in one hand and can of Coke in the other and made crude comments to innocent little girls participating in a dance routine. That’s not only crude, that’s a hanging offense.
If you’ve taken a wife or girlfriend to restaurant or bar recently, especially in a rural area, where ratios are often times at least 8-to-1, one regiment of blue collar males to go with a handful of intimidated females, chances are you’ve experienced some of the same.
It is the de-characterization of a community, the reckless rape of a region and a mindless misplacing of morals. Not by the locals, the professionals, the hardworking or the masses. It’s the fringe, the final wave, the classless and the flawed, that used to be just a few whose ranks have so suddenly grew.
They are tactless, obscene, obnoxious and dense; a plethora of down-and-outers who have earned their position, flocking to the new land of promise, not for a new beginning but to spread their dark cloud.
“That’s what happens,” we say, “it’s all a part of a boom.”
If that’s just a part of the boom, then we’ll be losing our community soon.
Don’t let it happen. This is not just a police issue. It’s about all of us standing up for what is right when we see a wrong. Take charge now and show your character.
Holten is a freelance columnist and cartoonist from Dickinson.