On The Remaking Of Character

One of the apparent corollaries of the maxim that “character determines fate” is that character is static and unchangeable.  In the majority of cases this is undoubtedly true; but this truth should not be used as a license for us to lie supinely on our backs and let the swerve of the atoms in the void determine our future.  As volitional beings, we must act.  Forward movement is one of the imperatives of masculine virtue.  The negative personality takes refuge in the apparent indifference of the universe; but the active man, the healthy man, is too busy with his own affairs to fret over such exculpatory abstractions.  Each of us is responsible for his own fate.  Having accepted this, we will now ask how character can be modified to suit the will.

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Focus On Causes, Not On Pretexts

The great Irish statesman and political theorist Edmund Burke wrote a seminal essay of political theory in 1790 entitled Reflections on the Revolution in France.  His purpose was to attack the intellectual underpinnings of the revolution and show, by reasoned argument, that the French revolutionaries were engaged in the height of folly by consciously turning their backs on the past.  The long essay was cast in the form of a “letter” to an unnamed “gentleman in Paris,” and stretched to nearly 360 pages.

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Sometimes It Is Not Advisable To Question Authority Or Tradition

While it may be good in some instances to question inherited tradition and authority, there are many times when one should not.  Free-thinking individualism has its place, but there is an equally valid place for respecting the power of authority and tradition.  This point is amusingly illustrated in the two anecdotes presented below.  They are related in De Slane’s edition of Ibn Khallikan’s encyclopedia, but the first tale is originally found in the Egyptian historian Al Maqrizi.

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Using Your Ingenuity To Accomplish Your Goals

Those who are resourceful will find ways of carrying out their purposes.  They will not be deterred by momentary setbacks or obstacles.  The lazy man or the dullard will take refuge behind the natural obstructions that life places in his path and, using such problems as excuses to avoid work, take comfort in his failures.  In his mind, failure was inevitable.  This way of thinking can be found in many people; they never advance far in life because they are not willing to hunt for creative solutions to problems.  Obstacles must be bypassed, smashed through, vaulted over, or avoided altogether.

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Limits Must Be Imposed On Our Desires

Among the many problems that we are faced with today is the lack of restraint, the lack of moderation, that is actively supported and encouraged by our culture.  If you have something, you are told that you deserve more.  If you want something, you are told that you deserve to have it.  If something stands in the way of your getting something you think you deserve, you are told how to obtain that thing you desire.  Few people pause to think that what they crave may carry a heavy burden in the long run.

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Why We Study Great Exemplars Of History

You may ask yourself why we study the lives and experiences of great exemplars.  When I say “exemplar” I mean a person of substance and distinction, a person of notoriety in some field of endeavor.  There are many reasons for this; I will attempt to give a few of them here.

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