Character

My dad always told me a gentleman does what’s right even when nobody else is in the room. If he starts a job, he finishes it. If he tells somebody he’s going to do something, he does it.

A gentleman opens a door for a lady and stands when she walks into a room. If he’s seated somewhere and there are not enough seats for everyone, he gives up his seat for her. A gentleman doesn’t use foul language in front of women or children. To be a man is to treat others how you would like to be treated. It means being honest; not 75% of the time or when it’s convenient but 24/7. It means standing up or speaking up for those who can’t do so for themselves. It’s fighting for the rights and opinions of others even when they don’t agree with yours. Do you think you’re a man? A man with character? Give me an answer to the following scenario. You’ve been to the grocery store, bought $300.00 of groceries and upon arriving home you realize you received $1.50 too much in change, what would you do? Wait! Before you answer I’ll share with you how 90% of the people answered who were asked the same question. They said they would keep it. It’s the lottery, not their mistake. Why should they be inconvenienced to drive all the way back? Seven percent said they would return it on their next visit. Two percent said they would call the manager and tell him or her what happened to make sure some cashier wouldn’t get into trouble for a simple mistake. Then ask the manager what they should do. One percent said they would get in their car and return the $1.50.

What would you do? Have you answered in your head? Good. Now, let’s raise the stakes; what if it were $10.00, $20.00, a $100.00? It’s funny how the answer changes for most people. One person I asked said at $100.00 “I’d have to return it because I couldn’t live with myself”. Does morality have a price? Should it? This question reminds me of the old joke where a guy asks a girl if she would sleep with him for a million dollars. Her response, “Ah, well, yeah, I guess for a million dollars I’d have to say yes.” Then he hands her a $10.00 bill. She says, “What’s this?” He replies, “I already know what kind of person you are, now we’re just negotiating price!

I guess my real question is does morals have an on/off switch? Turn it on when it suits us and off when it doesn’t? How about integrity, justice, fairness, honor? Are we allowed the same on/off switch with them? A lot of people I interviewed doing this article said there’s a difference between a little lie and a big lie. They called the little lies, “white lies”. Like putting a white cowboy hat on some lies makes them more palatable. “Keeping money that doesn’t belong to you,” they would say, “isn’t stealing until it becomes a significant amount.” That’s like saying someone is a little pregnant. As men if we are to be taken seriously we need to decide what represents us and take a stand. One man I interviewed told me it didn’t matter how much extra change they got. His answer was still the same, lottery, lottery, lottery. I’ll tell you this, I have 1000% more respect for that guy versus the weasels that say taking small amounts of money is okay but not large amounts. A lie is a lie. Stealing is stealing.

One of the last people I interviewed had the most poetic answer to the question, “What is a man with character?” His response, “A man with a conscience, a man with a soul.” A man that is smart enough to realize that what he takes from others he takes from himself and what he returns to others makes him whole.

My final question is to you; what kind of man do you want to be?