Abraham Lincoln, the legendary American, once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Billy Graham went further and said ‘’When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost. Perhaps the greatest catastrophe of the
Y-generation lies in the question of character. Each one of us, including the author of this piece, has an element of character in him. All of us have that je ne sais quoi about us; this indescribable element about us is what defines our character. Our character is the offspring of our own individuality, that aspect of being different, being you. Our point of disaster is when we throw this essential element right to the dogs, and this marks your death. The generation for whom I pen this piece is susceptible to various elements of life which later grow into a chute that determines our character. It could be good or bad. I hold it dear that the ultimate achievement a man can gain during his moments on this earth is resolute character. Character, more than wealth, health, fame, Intellect, or any other worldly
pursuit, determines whether a person is indeed great or not. With an avalanche of pursuits dwelling among us, especially we the youth, viz.: wealth, women, good jobs, fame et cetera. All these are indeed within our disposal for the taking but even then in the pursuit of all these, fueled by our physical appetites, and devoid of character, we end up losing ourselves. Individual identity underlines our character. It is an individual element, not collective. Forget your brother, sister, comrade, workmates, school mates, even your parents. It is that serious. It is all about you. Perchance most of us are afraid of being us, being different, because of the fear that you will be shelved, that you will be seen as a nonstarter, that you will be alienated, that you will be termed with so many adjectives simply because you are being you and not them. I cannot deny that you will be subjected to all the above and lest you are strong in your identity and what you believe in, what is the difference between you and the dry leaves upon a tree that follow every command of the tyrannical wind as to which direction to follow? The divine author of our being made us as individuals, never as collectives. There was certainly a reason for that, lest we debase him. Individual identity comes from the self- realization and awareness that character comes from imbibed principles that we attain during our growth. Do I have to engage in promiscuity because I am told it exposes you to different grapes from different vines? Do I have to smoke because it makes me quench my thirst? Do I have to sniff and take in a daily dose of bhang and heroine because it makes me high? Ok, let’s make this clear. All men are meant to be on the ground, to trample upon the earth until they depart it so I find it foolhardy when I am told about this hogwash of getting high. I can’t and won’t believe it till that day that I see a man or a woman who has permanently built his edifice among the firmament and floats there, literally. Only then will I believe that there are indeed some substances that makes us high, literally. The whole point am trying to make is that we do not necessarily have to do or act according to the zeitgeist-the spirit of the time. He that follows this path eventually ends up losing himself, his identity and ultimately his whole character. You end up glorifying others and belittling yourself; which I can only describe as a disease of the bonehead. Until that moment that we come to dispense with the idea that we constantly have to be like others because they are friends or co-equals, we will never discover our true individuality, which shapes our character. What you will be doing is merely living in other people’s character, not your own, which is meant to be inherent upon you, and you alone. You do not have to be indispensable to the wantonness of your peers, to be at peace with thyself lest you lose your ground, dignity, individuality, and eventually your character, which is you. Why not do something that your peers have never contemplated doing. Something like community work, being sensitive to the plight of those around you and giving a hand where you can. Why not allocate even a smidgeon of your savings or salary at the end of every month and dedicate it to a children’s home or pay or contribute towards the welfare of those destitute ones around you? It is these small things that you do that ultimately and immensely culminate into shaping your character and elevating you a step higher. I find profound satisfaction when every Saturday, after all the work during the week, I check in at a nearby children’s home for community work. This same day is the day I have dedicated to my gym and physical training but I only partake in this after my blissful sessions with the children who need
our attention. To some of us it may sound rather mundane, right? I can see you nod to affirm this. That’s alright still. But trust me, the inner satisfaction and peace that I gain after disregarding all the Friday nights out is extremely inexplicable. Further, it molds my character. I can attest that the small things that I/we do are what eventually shape our character and expose us to different spheres of life. So, choose your identity, underline and understand your individuality, develop your own dignity, and define your character.
This article was written by David Okumu, he is 27yrs old a student at the Catholic University. he is pursuing a bachelors degree in law,had previously done a diploma in the same and a diploma in PR. He is working at Advermedia CO limited which he helped set up last year. His interest in life is reaching out to the needy through volunteering, community involvement and working with the youth.