Have you ever known someone who was born into a life of privilege, having been offered every opportunity you can imagine on a silver platter, yet for whatever reason they blew it never becoming the person of character or success they could have been? I’m sure you have witnessed such tragedy. We all have. On the other hand, have you known someone from a disadvantaged background who in spite of all kinds of adversities managed to grow into a person of great character attaining extraordinary success? Of course you have. Perhaps you are one.
We are all born into circumstances – rich, poor, or middle-class. But circumstances do not create character; they merely reveal it. So what forms character? First and foremost we would probably all agree it is the influence of another person, a role model who has demonstrated good character and served as a teacher or mentor. And certainly some are more fortunate than others to be exposed to such positive influencers, regardless which side of the tracks they come from. Yet, even then some blow it while others take the right path. What makes the difference?
Ultimately the formation of character is a matter of choice, and we all have the freedom to choose how we respond to life’s circumstances. Someone once suggested that if freedom is defined as “the opportunity to make decisions”, then character is “the ability to make right decisions”. If that is true, then one of the quickest ways to reveal the true character of a person is to give him the freedom to choose his own path.
Neither is character a once-upon-a-time choice; rather, it is a choice we must make each and every day in each and every circumstance. Unfortunately some blow it. Others, though, seem to have developed the ability to take the right path in almost every circumstance. They are people we would say have great character.
While we are not always in control of our circumstances, we are in control of the choices we make within those circumstances. And it is those choices that reveal our character.