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Website owner:  James Miller


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On Character




   One of the most basic facts about people is that they have 
   certain attributes of character, certain character traits, that 
   distinguish them.  One person is responsible and reliable.  You 
   can always depend on him.  He will do what he says.  You can 
   depend on it.  For him to be irresponsible is something that 
   would be totally out of character for him.  It never happens.  
   Another person is completely irresponsible and undependable.  
   He is predictable in this regard.  You can never depend on him.  
   One person is very conscientious.  He is always conscientious.  
   You can depend on it.  He is predictable in this regard.  
   Another person is careless and indifferent.  He is always 
   careless and indifferent.  You can depend on him to be careless 
   and indifferent.  Some people are very organized and methodical 
   and others are very unorganized and unmethodical.  Some people 
   are kind and understanding.  Others are the opposite --- 
   unkind, malicious, cruel.  Thus it goes.  People have certain 
   traits that distinguish them, that they reliably live true to.  
   And because of this we are able to describe their characters 
   with considerable accuracy.  We describe them as being 
   responsible, conscientious, organized, kind, etc.

   Character traits are habits.  They are habits that we acquire 
   in one way or another and that, collectively, make up our total 
   character.  Collectively they describe and define us.  The 
   virtues are habits: honesty, justness, goodness, kindness, 
   courage, etc. are habits.  The vices are habits: dishonesty, 
   deceit, unjustness, badness, cowardice, etc. are habits.  Our 
   characters are defined by a large set of various kinds of 
   habits. 

   Can character be changed?  Yes, it can be changed.  Is it easy? 
   It is as easy (or difficult) as changing ingrained habits.  Do 
   people very often change?  No.  People seldom change.  The 
   person who is responsible at age 12 will probably be 
   responsible at age 90 and the person who is irresponsible at 
   age 12 will probably be irresponsible at age 90.  The person 
   who is selfish at age 12 will probably be selfish at age 90.  
   And the person who is self-denying at age 12 is usually self-
   denying at age 90.  It has been my observation that a person's 
   character usually remains about the same for life.  Many people 
   wish to change their characters in various ways but most seem 
   unable to do so.  People have bad habits, habits that pull them 
   down, and they would like to change, try to change, make New 
   Year's resolutions to change, but seldom do change.  They are 
   chained to all their bad habits and can't free themselves.  
   They just don't know how to change.  I think that underneath 
   bad habits are wrong outlooks, attitudes and values that need 
   to be changed before the bad habits can be changed.  And I 
   believe that belief in God, love of God, and love of the things 
   that He stands for, is a prerequisite to shedding bad habits 
   and acquiring good ones.  Love of God, love of Goodness, and 
   and the pursuit of Goodness, Truth and Understanding, are all 
   closely united and I believe these things constitute the road 
   to character reformation and mental health.  And thought and 
   reflection play an important role in the process.


   Dec 2003


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