I was watching Life is Worth Living the other morning, and Bishop Sheen was speaking on character. Several points he made really stuck with me, and I finally had the opportunity to sit down and share them with you. I believe you’ll find them encouraging, as they can be applied equally whether one is a believer or a nonbeliever. (On the subject of my lack of posts lately, I apologize for the dearth of them. Unfortunately, I have been involved in bringing some enlightenment to our local school district and reminding them that not all parents are willing to surrender their rights at the school doors when their kids walk in the building. They seem to keep forgetting that fact where I’m concerned, and so I need to keep reminding them. It’s fun, but it takes time. I digress, however.)
The first point that he made was that character is a function of the will, not the mind. It was interesting to note that even back in 1953, when the show was broadcast, he mentioned that a majority of schooling was focused on developing the mind of the student, but little to nothing was done to develop the character. We can teach facts, figures and knowledge all that is desired, but it does not bring about a good character in a person. That takes an effort of the will.
The second point built on the first in that he believed that a person who has the capacity in them to do great good has an equal capacity to do great evil, and vice-versa. You may be thinking, “Well, what’s so encouraging about that?” I find it encouraging because to me, it means that there are no “wasted” lives. Any one of us can change at any moment. If you’ve done good, use it as a way to not become full of yourself or, as in the mistake that I made at one point in my life, think that I was so good and SO pure that I could never fall. (I DID, and HARD, too) If you’ve done bad things in your life, realize that you have just as much potential to do good – that potential is just waiting for you to make the decision. No, it may not be peaches and cream, sunshine and rainbows right from Jump Street, but you CAN do it. Don’t give up and think that just because you’ve made mistakes, you’re stuck for the rest of your life. He used the example of Joseph Stalin; “What a saint he could have been,” he said, “had he used his great abilities for good instead of evil as he did.” It was really something to ponder!
Finally, he spoke about ways to develop character in ourselves, and how to help that same growth in others. His statement was to remember this simple idea; look for the BEST in others, and the WORST in ourselves. Now, that means neither that you wear rose-colored glasses with others, nor that you constantly dig for the worst possible points about yourself and beat yourself over them. Instead, he spoke about how in Scripture (it was a Christian show, after all) Christ found a common point at which to work with anyone, no matter who they were. From that point, He built the relationship with them. When we meet others, find a common ground and look for that one good, encouraging point at which you can begin to help them build themselves up. God knows the world works hard enough to tear us all down, right? When dealing with ourselves, we need no more work on building up characteristics about ourselves that are already good ones than a doctor needs treat an ailment that isn’t there. Instead, look for those things that are negative and that hold us back or weigh us down; those things which serve to harm ourselves or those around us and work on those aspects of our character with the intent to make ourselves better people in the end.
It gave me much to think about and I hope it does you, as well!
God bless today, my friend.