Many Individuals have sturdy and constructive emotions about George Washington (1732-1799) because the “Father of Our Nation,” the chief of the colonists within the warfare for independence, and the primary president of the brand new nation. The time period most frequently related to George Washington is “character,” referring to his ethical power and attributes — endurance, generosity, candor, civic-mindedness, and sense of obligation.
In a four-volume biography of this multi-talented patriot, historian James Thomas Flexner acknowledged, “George Washington grew to become one of many noblest and best males who ever lived. However he was not born that means. He perfected himself regularly by the train of his personal will and talent.” A few of the many challenges Washington needed to face embody service within the Virginia militia throughout the French and Indian Warfare, attending the Continental Congress, turning into Commander-in-Chief of the brand new Continental Military, dealing with Benedict Arnold’s betrayal, and struggling along with his want to finish slavery. (In his will, he left instructions for the eventual emancipation of his slaves after the passing of his spouse Martha.)
Johann von Goethe, the German author, believed that “character is finest fashioned within the stormy billows of the world.” American essayist Helen Keller went even additional: “Character can’t be developed in ease and quiet. Solely by expertise of trial and struggling can the soul be strengthened, imaginative and prescient cleared. ambition impressed, and success achieved.”
To Identify This Day . . .
Washington’s birthday is an efficient time to ponder virtues that make individuals stand out from the group. In his guide The Street to Character, David Brooks pays tribute to individuals who embody ethical qualities and powerful internal character. “Sometimes, even in the present day,” he writes, “you come throughout sure individuals who appear to own a powerful internal cohesion. They don’t seem to be main fragmented, scattershot lives. They’ve achieved internal integration. They’re calm, settled, and rooted. They don’t seem to be blown off target by storms. They do not crumble in adversity. Their minds are constant and their hearts are reliable. Their virtues will not be the blooming virtues you see in sensible school college students; they’re the ripening virtues you see in individuals who have lived a bit of and have realized from pleasure and ache.
“Typically you do not even discover these individuals, as a result of whereas they appear type and cheerful, they’re additionally reserved. They possess the self-effacing virtues of people who find themselves inclined to be helpful however needn’t show something to the world: humility, restraint, reticence, temperance, respect, and mushy self-discipline.
“They radiate a form of ethical pleasure. They reply softly when challenged harshly. They’re silent when unfairly abused. They’re dignified when others attempt to humiliate them, restrained when others attempt to provoke them. However they get issues completed. They carry out acts of sacrificial service with the identical modest on a regular basis spirit they’d show in the event that they had been simply getting the groceries. They don’t seem to be eager about what spectacular work they’re doing. They don’t seem to be eager about themselves in any respect. They only appear delighted by the flawed individuals round them. They only acknowledge what wants doing and so they do it.
“They make you’re feeling funnier and smarter whenever you communicate with them. They transfer by completely different social courses not even conscious, it appears, that they’re doing so. After you’ve got identified them for some time it happens to you that you have by no means heard them boast, you’ve got by no means seen them self-righteous or doggedly sure. They don’t seem to be dropping little hints of their very own distinctiveness and accomplishments.
“They haven’t led lives of conflict-free tranquility, however have struggled towards maturity. They’ve gone a way towards fixing life’s important drawback, which is that, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it, ‘the road separating good and evil passes not by states, nor between courses, nor between political events both — however proper by each human coronary heart.’
“These are the individuals who have constructed a powerful internal character, who’ve achieved a sure depth. In these individuals, on the finish of this battle, the climb to success has surrendered to the battle to deepen the soul. . . . These are the individuals we’re searching for.”
What skills do you see in people who find themselves particularly sturdy, mature, or sensible? Identify and describe an individual you admire who has nice character.
These quotes by George Washington lay out a number of the values he labored to embody. Select one which you want to not solely to recollect however to stay by in the present day.
“Be courteous to all, however intimate with few, and let these few be properly tried earlier than you give them your confidence.”
“Guard in opposition to the impostures of pretended patriotism.”
“Labor to maintain alive in your breast that little spark of celestial hearth known as conscience.”
“Perseverance and spirit have completed wonders in all ages.”
“Happiness relies upon extra upon the interior body of an individual’s personal thoughts, than on the externals on the planet.”
“Let your coronary heart really feel for the afflictions and misery of everybody.”