Friday, September 26, 2008

One of Those Days

Man, I was humping all day at work yesterday.

I didn't have time to string together anything overly long or involved for y'all today. See, I actually do a lot of writing when I should be....err I mean when I finish working. Anyway, I had a convo that made think about a question I'd like to ask y'all.

How do you all judge another human being's character?

Since all of us are incredibly flawed, I hope nobody holds people to some impossible standard of perfection. That said, we all decide who is and who is not a good person. We also decide whether people are admirable, whether we would like to emulate them and whether we actually like them.

I talked to somebody the other day who was telling me about listening to one of America's pre-imminent columnists discuss the character of Barack Obama and John McCain. He thought the guy did an insightful job of peering into both politician's souls. I thought it sounded like the guy did all right.

See, the columnist's description of the candidates' character didn't include any insights on what their handling of the racial issues raised during this campaign said about them as individuals. Race has been front and center in politics since Obama's candidacy became viable, and I think that the way each man and his surrogates have handled it is important. At least it's important to me.

Anyway, I'm going to spare y'all a long dissertation on exactly what conclusions I've drawn about both men. I think I'll save that for a day when I have time to really gather my thoughts and do the topic justice.

What I would prefer is that all of you intelligent readers tell me how y'all determine an individual's character and then discuss what character traits are important. If any of y'all are felling frisky, you can also bless us with your insights on Obama and McCain. Please do not depend on trite observations or descriptions.

Give me some of y'all's insight.


Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

character - by actions

have a gr8 weekend folk

Deacon Blue said...

Some of the key things by which I judge character:

- Is your word good? Do you keep it? And if you fail to keep it, did you at least try really hard, and can you apologize for the failure?

- Can you recognize and admit your hypocrisy? I don't expect people NOT to be hypocritical at times; that's ridiculous. But can you admit to hypocrisy?

- Can you respect the views of others? That is, at some point, even if you disagree, can you at least admit that I have some legit basis for my beliefs/stands, no matter how slim that basis might seem to you?

- Do your actions match your professed beliefs/opinions? Pretty much repeating Torrance here.

Big Man said...

I agree with everything on your list Deac, thanks.

And can y'all believe this Wamu news? Man, it's getting trill out there. Everyday, KIT seems more and more like a realist and less and less like a doomsayer.

Air-Cooled Head said...

What Deacon Blues said.

To that I'd add; Can you accept being "bested" by others. Or do you feel the need to attempt to drag them down as a way to build yourself (esteem) up?

Can accept loss as a consequence of playing?

Big Man said...

That's a real good one Air-Cooled. I like that one.

How you accept failure if just as important as how you deal with success. I had to learn that a while back.

Darth Whitey said...

Does the person malign others behind their back? If so, they also do it to you when you're not around.

Do they lie? Do they misrepresent? If so they are not to be trusted.

Do they wish to be treated differently for something they have chosen? ie, do they want me to "respect" their religion or what have you, with penalty beyond disassociation for failing to do so?

Do they hold things that are not of your choosing against you? (race, sexual pref, ethnicity, etc?)

aegil said...

I agree with Deacon's take. Here's my additional 2 cents.

Are you kind? Especially in a situation where it is hard to do so?

Do you have a sense of humor, including about yourself?

Can you give a proper apology? 3 parts - I'm sorry, I was wrong (or it's my fault), what can I do to make amends?

Are you a mensch? This refers to someone who does not have to be "macho" - who can do something that may not fit the stereotype of what a man (or woman's) role is if it is the right thing to do.

These are things that I have learned to look for, and aspire to, and try to practice - I'm working on the apology thing - tough to do without making a defensive statement!

the uppity negro said...

I think it's contextual.

By having a set list that's immutable I think I'm setting myself up. I have an entirely different list of things that I'd be looking for from Obama than from McCain. But, that comes from the fact that Obama's house is a)five blocks away from my house back in Chicago b) My parents elected him state senator back in the day c) he used to go to my church.

And even when I meet someone like here at school or at church, it still depends how I judge character. How someone talks depends whether or not I choose door number 1 or number 2 for another line of questioning--or whether or not someone comes from a certain background.

It's all contextual for me: how does one handle themselves in the present situation understanding their context.

Lolo said...

What a person does when noone's observing, when there's no chance of being noticed and complimented or thanked or called out ~ that's often what really determines what a person's true character is. In my experience, at least.

A.F. said...

Whenever someone demonstrates more than once that they lack empathy, I want to stay away from that person. Also, when others demonstrate frequently that their view of whatever is in front of them (person, situation, text, etc) is based on a preconceived notion rather than on whoever/whatever is actually in front of them, that leads me to believe that they lack character.

There are too many examples of McCain's lack of empathy to enumerate. He seems to me *willfully* out of touch with the problems facing 99% of Americans, and I believe wedding oneself, as he has done, to neo-conservative ideology for the sake of personal gain is beyond the pale: it entails buying into steely (and insane) theories and strategies for "dominance" at the expense of human welfare. And his repeated suggestions last night that Obama doesn't understand simple language indicated to me that he was referring to a preconceived notion about Obama as an African American, or that he is hateful enough to attempt to elicit those stereotypical responses from the public.

Rob said...

On my wedding day, my mother told me that my Aunt Bess (great aunt on my father's side and the last living member of that generation) wanted to talk to me. I went over to her house, and she told me two things: There can only be one man in the family, and to look at my mother and father, who "treat everybody the same, will help anybody who needs it, no matter what's going on." I had never thought of either of those before, but I've kept them all my life.

Raving Black Lunatic