Character

“Character is what you know you are,

not what others think you have.”

She knew what to do.

“Determination and perseverance move the world; thinking that others will do it for you is a sure way to fail.”

She did not fail, in the long run, despite all the obstacles.  Just ask her numerous, successful, students.

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Be Himself

I have often reflected that the causes of success or failure of men depend upon their … character, and [are] not a matter of choice. – Niccolo Machiavelli

He was there, tall and imposing, and upright with his natural grace and nobility. In front of the his men, he naturally commanded attention, his speech had seemingly come to close.

But now he hesitated. He stopped. This was unusual for him.

They knew him so well. They had followed him, through thick and thin, for years. But they were angry. They wanted to revolt. They hadn’t been paid; they had listen to his prepared speech; they had heard similar excuses before. Most of them still not convinced. He knew this.

He was at loss to what to do.

In a last desperate act, he pulled a letter from his pocket. Something was wrong, however.

He tried to read the letter, stumbling with his words, then, hopelessly staring at it.

He hestitated again. He, again, reach to a pocket, pulling out a pair of eyeglasses.

“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind, in the service of my country.”

Most had never seen these eyeglasses, something only General George Washington intimates had ever seen him wear. Humbled and embarrassed, many of the officers were now in tears. For, if the speech had not already destroyed the revolt, this act assured its demise. Washington left the meeting. The officers unanimously voted to wait for their overdue wages, and they would not “retire to some unsettled country” and leave Congress without an army.

“On other occasions he had been supported by the exertions of the army and the countenance of his friends,” said Captain Samuel Shaw, “but in this he stood single and alone.”

With that George Washington continued lead and help found the United States of America.

Leading Naturally.

The point of this story is that George Washington, could not help himself, but be himself, and be leader even at his weakest moment. His officers followed the man, George Washington, because of who he was. Continue reading

Did What Is Right

According to his own conscience.

Which was against his country’s norms at the time.

A Man for All Seasons.

 

“You want to know about my motivation, don’t you? Well. It is the kind of sentiments anyone would have when he actually sees refugees face to face, begging with tears in their eyes. He just cannot help but sympathize with them. Among the refugees were the elderly and women. They were so desperate that they went so far as to kiss my shoes, Yes, I actually witnessed such scenes with my own eyes. Also, I felt at that time, that the Japanese government did not have any uniform opinion in Tokyo. Some Japanese military leaders were just scared because of the pressure from the Nazis; while other officials in the Home Ministry were simply ambivalent.

People in Tokyo were not united. I felt it silly to deal with them. So, I made up my mind not to wait for their reply. I knew that somebody would surely complain about me in the future. But, I myself thought this would be the right thing to do. There is nothing wrong in saving many people’s lives….The spirit of humanity, philanthropy…neighborly friendship…with this spirit, I ventured to do what I did, confronting this most difficult situation—and because of this reason, I went ahead with redoubled courage.”

Yes, There is the banality of evil.

And, Yes, he probably did pay for his life-saving kindness.  He had a tough life,  but the approximately 20,000 descendents of the individuals who he helped are glad that he did the right thing, in his own mind.

Others could not, and more importantly, did not do the same.  But, it was a natural thing, FOR HIM.  It’s called personality: Character AND Temperament, two sides of the same coin.  You cannot separate them.  It is a whole.

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We Proceed..

lessons_of_history“Since man is a moment in astronomic time, a transient guest of the earth, a spore of his species, a scion of his race, a composite of body, character, and mind, a member of a family and a community, a believer or doubter of a faith, a unit in an economy, perhaps a citizen in a state or a soldier in an army, we may ask under the corresponding heads–astronomy, geology, geography, biology, ethnology, psychology, morality, religion, economics, politics, and war – what history has to say about the nature, conduct, and prospects of man. It is a precarious enterprise, and only a fool would try to compress a hundred centuries into a hundred pages of hazardous conclusions. We proceed.” – Will and Ariel Durant

Those who fail to learn from history will repeat it.

History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
Mark Twain

“As his studies come to a close the historian faces the challenge: Of what use have your studies been? Have you found in your work only the amusement of recounting the rise and fall of nations and ideas, and retelling “sad stories of the death of kings”? Have you learned more about human nature than the man in the street can learn without so much as opening a book? Have you derived from history any illumination of our present condition, any guidance for our judgments and policies, any guard against the rebuffs of surprise or the vicissitudes of change? Have you found such regularities in the sequence of past events that you can predict the future actions of mankind or the fate of states? Is it possible that, after all, “history has no sense,” that it teaches us nothing, and that the immense past was only the weary rehearsal of the mistakes that the future is destined to make on a larger stage and scale?” – Will and Ariel Durant

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Of Complex Character, Revisited

Gaia is a tough bitch.

Hot Cold Passion: a passion for science.

She was a Scientist, first.

And she was a Character — a very interesting, and complex character.

Having entered the science community as a woman, when men still dominated science, and being charmed by a huge scientific ego, Carl, she luckily had to explore the backwaters of evolutionary biology at the time, bacteria, not getting much support from him or her male contemporaries.  Of course, like all good science, that estuary of knowledge contained biological riches totally ignored by well established conventional scientific community.  Like Darwin before, she was sui generis: a driven, feisty, no holds barred, idea brawler — an intellectual maverick — by necessity and choice.  Initially ignored, she generated a fair amount of hostility from the conventional scientific community when they were challenged.

And intellectual mavericks, with persistence, are the only type to challenge the major ideas of conventional science, and win — somewhat.

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The Double Edged Sword of Temperament

There are always peaks and valleys encountered in one’s life journey in time and space.

national_brother_week

“It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends.
But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy
is the quintessence of true religion”
Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Get action. Do things; be sane;
don’t fritter away your time; create, act,
take a place wherever you are and be somebody;
get action.”
Theodore Roosevelt

“Fix reason firmly in her seat,
and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion.”
Thomas Jefferson

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain
what I consider the most enviable of all titles,
the character of an honest man.”
George Washington

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Well, the road to the heavens is also paved with good intentions and bad intentions.  Because we never know, and never will know, the side effects of our actions that we in-tend — for our actions are ex-tensions that we can’t at-tend to, by definition.

And all of us have good intentions, in beginning, at least, and many still have good intentions to the end.

However, most people don’t enjoy directly dealing in the negative – they don’t like to think or talk about negative things, about themselves,

and sometimes others

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Are Women Human?

dorothy_sayers

‘In reaction against the age-old slogan, “woman is the weaker vessel,” or the still more offensive, “woman is a divine creature,” we have, I think, allowed ourselves to drift into asserting that “a woman is as good as a man,” without always pausing to think what exactly we mean by that.

What, I feel, we ought to mean is something so obvious that it is apt to escape attention altogether, viz: (…) that a woman is just as much an ordinary human being as a man, with the same individual preferences, and with just as much right to the tastes and preferences of an individual.

What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.’

That is what she wrote a long time ago.

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Yes, people are different, fundamentally and radically different, and people are the same, fundamentally same.

It’s called Temperament.  People are born different and the same.

“It is extraordinarily entertaining to watch the historians of the past … entangling themselves in what they were pleased to call the “problem” of Queen Elizabeth [I].

They invented the most complicated and astonishing reasons both for her success as a sovereign and for her tortuous matrimonial policy. She was the tool of Burleigh, she was the tool of Leicester, she was the fool of Essex; she was diseased, she was deformed, she was a man in disguise. She was a mystery, and must have some extraordinary solution.

Only recently has it occurred to a few enlightened people that the solution might be quite simple after all. She might be one of the rare people were born into the right job and put that job first.” — Dorothy Sayers

Dorothy Leigh Sayers (13 June 1893 – 17 December 1957) was a renowned English crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator and Christian humanist. She was also a student of classical and modern languages. She is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, that remain popular to this day. However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy to be her best work. She is also known for her plays, literary criticism and essays. [Wikipedia, revised]

Dorothy Sayers a Mentoring Idealist, a Contending Counselor:

“Some Idealists hold certain contentions that they put forth dramatically whenever the occasion requires or permits them to do so. Even so they make sure that their ways and means conform to regional norms, wishing, as they do, to sanction in a benevolent way…the Diplomatic Contender.

Counselors are like their Mentor twins, the Educators, in that both are directive, the one giving advice, the other directives.”— [Personology pages 174-5]

dorothy sayers the child

“Although we often succeed in teaching our pupils “subjects,” we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning. It is as though we had taught a child, mechanically and by rule of thumb, to play “The Harmonious Blacksmith” upon the piano, but had never taught them the scale or how to read music; so that, having memorized “The Harmonious Blacksmith,” they still had not the faintest notion how to proceed from that to tackle “The Last Rose of Summer.”

[Dorothy Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning]

Diplomatic Contenders are beyond compare as Counselors. Advisement is the side of diplomatic mediation that focuses on helping people to realise their potentials, and both kinds of enterprising Idealists have an unusually strong desire to contribute to the wellfaring and wellbeing of others and genuinely enjoy mentoring their companions toward greater personal fulfillment. [Personology, page 176]

Why do I say, “as though”? In certain of the arts and crafts, we sometimes do precisely this—requiring a child to “express himself” in paint before we teach him how to handle the colors and the brush. There is a school of thought which believes this to be the right way to set about the job. But observe: it is not the way in which a trained craftsman will go about to teach himself a new medium.”

[Dorothy Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning]

Incidently, reknowned child’s author, J K Rowling (Harry Potter fame), also a Counselor Idealist cites and enjoys Sayer as a literary role model, while having through her own life enjoyed reading Sayer’s ‘whodunnit’ novels:

A friend of C S Lewis, (also a Counselor Idealist), Dorothy Sayers differed over the reason to write:

Dorothy L. Sayers believed strongly that one should not write mainly to please one’s audience. Certainly, audiences have needs, and many of her works were commissioned for particular populations or organizations. However, Sayers would generally write on something only if she found herself passionate about a given topic and thought she might have something to say about it—not just because someone asked her to write on that topic.

On this point, C.S. Lewis disagreed with Sayers. He often wrote for people who wanted an article on a particular subject written by a popular author because he felt a pastoral obligation to them.
…and not their only disagreement:
Sayers also disagreed with C.S. Lewis on the matter of women’s ordination. He wrote to her asking that she take a public stand against it (this defense of tradition needed to be written by a woman, he reasoned).  Instead, Sayers suggested she would be an “uneasy ally” for him because she did not see any theological reason why women should not be priests. She distinguished between whether a man or a woman should be “cast for the part” of “playing” Christ in the mass (it made the most dramatic sense for it to be a man, of course) and whether a man or a woman could represent Christ to humanity. Because Christ was the representative of all humanity, not simply, male humanity she believed either a woman or a man could reflect that representation.
Sayers’ influence did not cease upon her death in 1957. Theater companies continue to produce her plays, English professors include her Dante translation in their syllabi, mystery fans still read about Lord Peter and Harriett, and hundreds of classical schools around the world owe their existence to Sayers’ small essay “The Lost Tools of Learning.”
A thriving Dorothy L. Sayers Society meets yearly, mining her work in ever-greater detail. Perhaps most significantly, many of Sayers’ theological contributions keep returning to print.
It had been 1938 when she was invited to address a women’s group; her speech “Are Women Human?” was ahead of her time and probably more than a little shocking.
This address, along with an essay called “The Human Not-Quite-Human,” was published in a slim-but-powerful volume.
Sayers asserted that there is no such thing as a man’s job or a woman’s job, but that people should pursue vocations for which they are passionate and gifted. She challenged a culture that tended to define men’s interests and human interests synonymously, while holding women apart as some sort of special species, not-quite-human.
dorothy-sayers-with-skull

Queen of People’s Hearts

I do things differently, because I don’t go by a rule book, because I lead from the heart, not the head, and albeit that’s got me into trouble in my work, I understand that.  But someone’s got to go out there, love people and show it.

                                I am a free spirit – unfortunately for some.”

dianax1

“This is me, this is me!” exclaimed Princess Diana when she was read Dr. David Keirsey‘s portrait of an Healer Idealist, (INFP).

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Studs

“…in earlier days, walk along the street in Chicago and be mobbed by people wanting to talk with him. He welcomed them all, and made slow if any progress to wherever he was going.”

He was working.  But, he didn’t see it as working.  He just loved talking to ordinary people, especially the working people — hearing their stories.

Friendly and Neighborly like

Listening, Remembering, Talking, Remembering, Listening, MemoryWorking…

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The Single Girl

She attempted to have the book censored or banned in the United States.

No, she wasn’t your socially conservative female.

Yes, in 1962 it was viewed as a scandalous book:  Sex and the Single Girl advocated having sex before marriage, and gave advice on how to have an affair.

And she was married.

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