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Shaping a Strong Foundation

A king once asked a hermit. “Which is the greatest virtue to mankind?”

The hermit replied, “Character”.

The king was perplexed and confused. He asked the hermit to explain. He said, “Give me a poor nation with citizens of good character, I’ll make it powerful and strong. Give me a rich and strong nation with citizens of bad character and see how it ruins.”

The king went happy and satisfied.

It is indeed true,

If wealth is lost, nothing is lost,

If health is lost, something is lost,

If character is lost, everything is lost.

We, in India, are standing at the crossroads where rape, molestation, corruption, bribery, honor killing, dowry and gender discrimination have become the order of the day. The society is losing its morality and values. We often hear people saying, “Citizens are losing their character”.

Why is character-building so important? According to the dictionary, Character is the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves. It is a set of qualities that are shared by many people in a group, country etc. It is a set of qualities that make a place or thing different from other places or things.

Society and its Nation bark on the men of good character. Whether it is Mahatma Gandhi, the crusades of Non-violence – Nelson Mandela or the lady with a golden heart, Mother Teresa to Thomas Edison, whose inventions changed the world or Abraham Lincoln. The one common thing they had was the Character.

Character is the magic masala that sets us apart from the rest. Our character will determine our success and each of us has the ability and the potential to develop and strengthen it.

How is a man of high character different from others?

The man will have qualities like honesty, integrity, dependability, diligence, loyalty, compassion, sincerity, attentiveness, determination, confidence etc.

It is our character that defines who we are and what we will become. Character has much to do with the mental and ethical traits that make a person, it actually refers to the unique qualities that are built into an individual’s life which establish his reaction despite his circumstances. If you are honest, you are more dependable, responsible and conscientious. If you are honest at work, success will surely come your way. If you are discreet, people will be keener on sharing their knowledge with you. If you are compassionate, you receive the goodwill and blessings of everyone.

Unfortunately, the entertainment media is dishing out the wrong stuff to the youth. The shortcuts to success are dishonesty, corruption, lies and malice and unethical means. News channels twist and turn the events and happenings to make them more sensational. The soap operas are nothing but exaggerated melodrama and never-ending immoral sagas. The channels say, people like such stuff and it sells.

Who is to blame for these falling standards and values? Who owns the responsibility for the degraded society and nation?

There are no shortcuts in life. A man of character will surely be successful and happy and content. Character is the inner support system of a person that holds you strong and upright even when the outside pressures are strong. It gives them the ability and the courage to stand up for what they believe in.

The biggest question today is how to build a good character?

Well, the answer lies within us. Our family is our first teacher. Parents need to be models for their children. Stories, fables on moral values, and the ‘dadi-ma’ story time is the biggest way to instil good character in our children. Let our children meet and interact with their grandparents. They can do this in days, which working parents can’t do in months. Be a living example to your children, talk to them, discuss the problems and seek solutions. Talk about their day in school, activities, and interactions in class with peers and teachers. It is never too late to start!!

Character is not ready-made; it is built bit by bit and day by day.

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