Your char­ac­ter goes a long way

The Saline Courier - - OPINION -

While trav­el­ing around the Mediter­ranean Sea last year fol­low­ing the foot­steps of the Apos­tle Paul on his mis­sion­ary jour­neys, I learned some his­tor­i­cal trivia about how the Ro­man’s took per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity se­ri­ously.

Ro­man cul­ture had a love of arches in the de­sign of their cities. Many of those arches still stand to­day. There is a good rea­son for that.

Af­ter a Ro­man arch was fin­ished, the de­signer and builder had to stand un­der­neath the new arch when the scaf­fold­ing that sup­ported it dur­ing con­struc­tion was re­moved.

If those re­spon­si­ble for its de­sign and con­struc­tion had make mis­takes, they were crushed when the arch col­lapsed.

That is why so many of those arches have sur­vived from then un­til to­day.

It was the ul­ti­mate way of say­ing, “You are re­spon­si­ble for your ac­tions and your fate.”

Many young peo­ple have just grad­u­ated from high school and find that they have to make choices about their fu­tures that will af­fect the rest of their lives.

Some will go to col­lege, some will go to trade school, some will go to work and a few will see deal­ing il­le­gal drugs as a quick way to make a lot of tax-free money. That last group will even­tu­ally get killed or end up serv­ing a life sen­tence on the in­stall­ment plan.

Ig­nor­ing this last group, some will wish to avoid per­sonal re­spon­si­bly and say that things be­yond their con­trol ru­ined their lives

I did not get ad­mit­ted to Har­vard or Yale af­ter I grad­u­ated from high school. I am go­ing to take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for that.

I can’t blame the idea that my par­ents weren’t rich enough to send me to these two in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing. The real rea­son I didn’t get in was sim­ple — I never ap­plied. That means I never had a chance to get in.

Here is an im­por­tant life les­son: If you never try, you can never suc­ceed. Fail­ure is au­to­matic.

I did grad­u­ate from col­lege. As part of the process, I had a men­tor who taught me and a hand­ful of other ROTC stu­dents many im­por­tant lessons about life that you can’t get from a book.

He be­lieved there were two kinds of peo­ple. There are those who at­tribute the events and con­di­tions of their lives to forces ex­ter­nal to them­selves such as luck, chance, fate or pow­er­ful peo­ple lik­ing or dis­lik­ing them.

Those folks be­lieve how their life plays out isn’t their fault be­cause they are vic­tims.

My men­tor taught me that bad things hap­pen to ev­ery­body at some point. Peo­ple can’t con­trol that. How­ever, ev­ery­body can con­trol how they re­act.

This sec­ond type of per­son be­lieves he or she has a say in the out­come of life. When bad things hap­pen, they adapt and over­come.

This is a choice. In the short term, it is the most dif­fi­cult choice.

My men­tor taught me this im­por­tant life les­son: Some peo­ple de­cide to be em­pow­ered, and oth­ers en­joy feel­ing pow­er­less be­cause they don’t have to take any re­spon­si­bil­ity. It is easy to give up when the go­ing gets rough

The first kind of peo­ple I men­tioned never built any arches in Rome.

In to­day’s “toxic mas­culin­ity” cul­ture, tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for your ac­tions and re­ac­tions to ad­ver­sary is out of style. It is so much eas­ier to say “it’s not my fault” and “life isn’t fair.”

If you got some guar­an­tee at birth that life would be fair, take it back to who ever gave it to you and de­mand a re­fund.

I went to high school with the son of a lo­cal doc­tor — in fact he was my doc­tor. This friend’s fa­ther was killed in a plane crash.

He could have been a vic­tim of his cir­cum­stances. No­body would have blamed him if he had not turned out well.

He took re­spon­si­bil­ity for how he re­acted to this tragedy and went to med­i­cal school. He worked hard and to­day he is a well-re­spected physician in Ben­ton.

Here is a fi­nal im­por­tant life les­son: The dif­fer­ence be­tween tak­ing per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity or be­ing ir­re­spon­si­ble shows your char­ac­ter.

Good char­ac­ter helps you build the trust of oth­ers needed for suc­cess. Char­ac­ter helps you do bet­ter in life be­cause lead­ers with good char­ac­ter and morals mo­ti­vate their fol­low­ers/em­ploy­ees.

So those of you who just grad­u­ated need to un­der­stand this: It is your life. Build an arch you are proud to stand un­der.

JIM HAR­RIS Con­ser­va­tive Cor­ner

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