Pine Nuts: Nobility of character

Nobility of character has fallen out of favor with us Americans. Our founding fathers had it, though they neglected to document the possession of it as an essential ingredient for election to office. I think it might better read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of a noble character.” What better epitaph could one have on one’s headstone than, “He Was a Good Man,” or “She Was a Good Woman,” or “John Doe Was a Good Woman.”

The most noble of characteristics, goodness and kindness, are sometimes sneered at today by those who consider goodness and kindness to be “Cocker Spaniel Characteristics,” not essential to achieving success, actually, counterproductive to achieving success.

Not a religious person, I admire the noble character of religious icons from Christ to Buddha. It saddens me when religious leaders of today disagree on a theological detail and take each other to task. The same holds true for political leaders. I cite one in Kazakhstan who has recently asked Russia for military support, advising the Russian troops to shoot to kill and fire without warning. Here is a case of character sadly lacking.

Closer to home, have you ever met a UPS driver that you didn’t like? Me neither. They must have on their job applications, “Must possess a noble character.” I have to believe that, for I have never met a UPS driver, active or retired, that I did not instinctively like. The same can be said of first responders and dog trainers.

To my mind, what the spreaders of conspiracy theories are lacking is, one, good information, and two, nobility of character. They are missing that cornerstone of what it takes to build good character, a conscience. Our conscience scolds us when we are doing something that is harmful to others and just plain wrong, particularly when it benefits our own personal agenda. An active conscience in America’s congress was last seen when a Dodo Bird was flying high over Washington. The most capable and just citizens of today’s America will not elect to run for a congress that is committed exclusively to doners and getting reelected.

In these times of political rancor and pandemic fatigue, we can rely on our mother’s loving advice, “Honey, you need to have a good bed and a good pair of shoes, because you’re going to be in one or the other.” And too, we can call on Mark Twain, who reminds us that, “This atrocious doctrine of allegiance to party plays directly into the hands of politicians of the baser sort, and doubtless it was borrowed, or stolen, from the monarchial system.”

Thank you, Mom, and thank you, Mark, for making a little sense of 2022, young as she is. Here’s to a return of the intrinsic value of character to the American political landscape and our collective humanity.

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