When I was a senior in high school, I was inducted into the National Honor Society. I was asked to speak on character – one of the four tenants of which also includes leadership, service and scholarship.
I thought about character and came to realize that being of “good character” is extremely challenging and hard to always achieve. It is more than trying to do the right thing or setting examples. It is an internalized belief system that looks both inward and outward at all times and creates real fundamental expectations and defiintions of personal and societal behavior.
I found that my words were inadequate for to explain character and my belief that it is fundamental in a civil society and to living a life in balance with the world.
The essence of character is best expressed by St. Francis of Assisi in his simple but profound prayer. It is a call to action and a guideline for living a good life. This prayer is at the center of all that I believe.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.