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An age of character draws depressingly yet conspicuously closer to a close

Xelor

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Tough enough -- I don't equate toughness with just attacking some individual. I equate toughness with moral fiber, with character, with principle, with demonstrated leadership in tough jobs where you emerge not bullying somebody, but with the respect of the people you led. That's toughness. That's fiber. That's character.
-- George H.W. Bush, Remarks delivered on Face the Nation


George H.W. Bush. John McCain. We have in 2018 now mourned the passing of two of our time's great men of character. Both men's lives stood in stark contrast to that of the man who is now POTUS.

They are not, however, alone. As sure as the Sun shines, the first fifth of the 21st century unavoidably wrought the demise of one man and woman after another who understood that character matters and who comported themselves in homage to that principle. Bob Dole, Jay Rockefeller, Jimmy Carter, Aretha Franklin, Maya Angelou, Muhammad Ali, Rosa Parks, Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, Neil Armstrong, and myriad millions of others who, though only history's most abstruse history's footnotes and references record their words and deeds, are every bit as essential to the nation's fabric as are the famous and familiar luminaries, for those unknown individuals' probity, benefaction and fortitude are the bolls and threads here entwined to form warp and weft of our culture and country.

Were/are those people fallible and flawed? Of course, but not fatally and fatalistically. Their imperfections, their and their peers', countrymen's keen awareness of them forged the content of their character. That they had enough respect and humility for others is how they learned to be of good character. They exhibited the decency, the empathy, the humility of honestly saying to themselves "maybe 'so and so's' critique is valid; I should at least check fairly and find out, and amend 'whatever' to the extent it is." Simply, they were honest with themselves and with others.

Who among our current crop of leaders -- political or cultural -- exhibits those qualities? Hard to think of some, isn't it? Google to get some ideas and what does one find? Lists focused on how much money one folks are paid, not on folks' empathy, compassion, and sagacity. Even so, there are some. Oprah. Ron Howard. Henry Winkler. Obama and his wife. Ted Danson. Tom Bergeron. Jeff Foxworthy. Matt Damon. Ellen. LeBron James. George Clooney. Anh “Joseph” Cao. Jeff Flake. Bernie. Cory Booker. Dick Lugar. "W," Jeb and the rest of the Bushes. Tyler Perry. Is there a "Cincinnatus, Vandiver or Marcus Aurelius among them? Time will tell.

But what about "regular" people? When interacting on social media, how do they comport themselves? In the face of apropos advertent analysis and examen, do they devolve to derelict "dime store" disparagement, as might a moppet? Do they demur deigning to dignify degeneracy and demagoguery? You tell me; I don't participate in enough social media to know. My gut guesses "yes" is more often what they do....

And therein lies the real problem. Our leaders, especially our politicians, reflect the electorate's character aspirations, because, of course, they must. It used to be we the people" accorded our approbation and indulged only they who showed themselves as our superiors. That was as it should be for if our leaders and idols be no better than we, what use are they? As Tyler Perry wrote, "I can do bad all by myself."


Here is a rule to remember in future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not "This is misfortune," but "To bear this worthily is good fortune."
-- Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations
of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius

Antoninus

 

Northern Light

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George H.W. Bush. John McCain. We have in 2018 now mourned the passing of two of our time's great men of character.

Are you for real???
 
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