Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character. – Henry Clay
What does that mean?
This quote is showing it’s age. I’d hate to have to do a sentence diagram of it. Let’s see if I can make it into slightly better English. “Honorable people have many valuable qualities, the most highly prized of which is character.” Is that a little easier to understand?
So, going from the reworded quote, honorable people (the best of the best of us) have many valuable qualities (have many virtues, attributes, or patterns of behavior that define us). The most interesting point is the qualification that this applies to honorable people, as not all people are.
It finishes by stating that the most valuable quality of all that a honorable person might have is character. The use of the term ‘prized’ in the original gives the connotation that not only is it valuable, but it is also pursued by many, and held in high regard by nearly all.
Why is character important?
As is often the case, turning the question around results in the more interesting one to answer. What would matter if you had no character? If you had no character, what would a promise mean? What other ‘property of an honorable person’ would mean anything at all?
By examining a complete lack of character, having character hopefully shows up a little more clearly, right? In this quote, character is described as a single, separate ‘property’ of an honorable person, but I would have to disagree (at least with present day definitions).
I believe that character is the name we give to the sum total of our virtues, less the sum total of our vices, or at least those which are well known to others (which is why some people go to extreme lengths to protect their good name, even if it means doing terrible things).
Where can I apply this in my life?
Please note that this is a very open ended thought exercise, because what a school teacher would do to improve themselves in the eyes of their peers may be very different from what an auto mechanic would do to achieve the same result. So you will have to come up with the ideas that will work best within your life, your goals, your peer group, and your definition of character.
Take a moment and think about your character. How would you describe it? Now consider what it would take to drag your character down. What would your life be like after such an event? Do you presently do anything that might cause such a fall if it were made public? Should you consider finding something else to do with your time and energy?
On the other hand, if you wanted to be better known for your character, what things you already do would you want more people to know about? What would help others to appreciate you and your character even more? What of your more valuable qualities would you bring into play in order to achieve that end?
What could you add to your present character? What new deeds, activities, and actions can you take to improve your character on the inside, which will show itself to others? Charities always are in need of help, as are many other organizations which provide help to people.
Please don’t turn this into a contest, strutting around like a peacock. There are too many people who do great things for the sole benefit of themselves and their appearances of character, rather than doing them for the proper reasons, and improving their character as a result.
Take a moment and consider what you have experienced so far in today’s post. What aspects of your character did you find most enjoyable, and which were most well known? On the other hand, which were the least enjoyable for you to think about?
What are you going to cut back on doing? What are you going to try to do better, more often, or more publicly? What are you going do to try to add to or otherwise enhance your already valuable qualities?
Do try to remember that you are a complex person, with many different roles, each of which may have a different group of people who admire you for your valuable qualities and your character. You can do any number of things in any number of areas of your life to help improve yourself, as well as what others perceive your character to be.
From: Twitter, @WarriorPhrases
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henryclay103402.html
Photo by stevendepolo
Happy Birthday to Henry Clay, born 12 April 1777.