Posts Tagged ‘Character’

My preferred candidate lost last night’s presidential election.  Actually, my preferred candidate (Mike Huckabee) didn’t even run for president, but of the two main contenders, I voted for the more conservative one in keeping with my beliefs, values and underlying philosophy of the role of government.  It was a close election, but in the end, the other guy won.

When that happens, how one reacts says a lot about one’s character and maturity.  It is easy and understandable when those on the losing side feel distraught and experience a host of negative emotions.  It is equally unsurprising to see the winners jubilant and celebratory.  We don’t have to go far – being around other people, watching TV news, engaging in social media, exploring the Web – to see and hear the variety of ways in which both winners and losers respond to the final results.

Since my guy lost, I get the chance to choose how I react in this situation.  I can be mad.  I can spew hate.  I can blame.  I can throw out challenges to get revenge next time.  But none of those reactions seem particularly inviting, mature, or reflective of the character of anyone I want to be.

Earlier this afternoon I posted how I want to respond on Facebook this way:

“To my fellow Romney supporters, today would be a very good day to be gracious and kind to all, to refrain from any biting remarks, to commit to praying for our president and other leaders, to make every effort we can to understand one another, to do our part to heal a divided nation, and to work together like adults to solve problems. Those of us on the losing side of the vote will most likely not find the eventual outcome to be as horrible as we fear just as those on the winning side will not see all their dreams come to pass. We’ll be OK.”

As my friend Larry stated in a comment to that Facebook post, “It would be even better if everyone did that every day.”  I agree.

Leap year lesson #309 is How you handle loss reveals character and maturity.

We normally think of commitment as a good thing. Of course, it depends on the object of one’s commitment. If I’m committed to doing harm to others, that’s a bad thing. If I’m committed only to what gives me pleasure in the moment with no thought of others or long-term consequences, that’s also a bad thing. So commitment by itself does not guarantee an honorable outcome.

The exchange of wedding vows I witnessed today between a long-time family friend and his bride are an example of an honorable commitment. In a time and culture where too many take too lightly the seriousness and the institution of marriage, where so many want the benefits of marriage without the legal or personal obligations that accompany it, it is nice to see young people (or those of any age) make the decision to choose a path of legal commitment to one other person for life. Other arrangements are easy ways to keep an exit door readily available should feelings change and the grass suddenly look greener elsewhere.

Still, even an honorable commitment is no guarantee of following through to completion. For example, on a much smaller scale, how many people commit to a variety of New Years resolutions, only to abandon them within a few days, weeks or months? How many commit to new jobs or goals or even relationships, only to change those commitments when something shinier comes along or if the going gets tough?

That is not to say that no commitments should ever change. It is to say that a mental decision to go down some significant path must be accompanied by a quality of character that continually drives the person down that chosen path regardless of the difficulties faced or the temptations to do otherwise. Without that, the original “commitment” is really just more of a temporary plan until something more attractive comes along.

So commitment is nice, but only if to the right actions, ideas, principles, goals or people. And then it is only maintained if accompanied by a person of character to see it through.

Leap year lesson #84 is Commitment is good, but it isn’t enough.