Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Observations on Character

Recently I was invited to speak to a chapter of the Kiwanis in Stockton, California. I had originally intended to address the hot-bed issue of illegal immigration, entitled, “Who Is My Neighbor?” As the time approached for this early morning breakfast gathering, I felt I needed to change course in what I was going to share. The reason for this is quite simple: There were simply too many instances of people in the news who had serious character issues.

Here are several of the examples I noticed in just one day in the news.

Representative Mark Souder, a Republican, was to step down due to an adulterous relationship. He said he “sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff. I wish I could have been a better example,” he said. “In this poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain. I am resigning rather than to put my family through this painful, drawn-out process . . . We are a committed family but the error is mine and I should bear the responsibility. Not only am I thankful for a loving family but for a loving God.”

Not only does Congressman Souder cheat on his wife, but he compromises his position as a standing member of Congress, opening himself up to blackmail and all sorts of other nefarious problems. Then his comments are a further indication of his lack of character. He refers to his unfaithful liaison as “having a mutual relationship.” Please! He starts the “blame game,” because, after all, “It’s not my fault!” He blames it on the atmosphere of Washington, D.C., which is rife with political chicanery and subterfuge! As for his “loving family and loving God” comment, I hope he is able to restore relations with both. He needs that most of all!

The New York Times reported that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat and a front-running candidate for the U.S. Senate (a seat vacated by retiring Senator Chris Dodd), has on several occasions suggested – and in at least one instance, flat-out claimed – that he served in Vietnam even though he did not. “On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that, and I take full responsibility,” Blumenthal said Tuesday. But he described those remarks as “absolutely unintentional,” and said the mistake has only happened a few times out of “hundreds” of addresses he’s given.

The arrogance of Mr. Blumenthal takes my breath away! Here we have the Attorney General of Connecticut (my state of birth!) who is chief law enforcement officer for the people of Connecticut, and he only “misspoke a few times.” No, Mr. Blumenthal, that’s called lying and misrepresentation. After five deferments you finally enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve – I’ll give you that. However, it is galling to hear you demean the service of those who actually served in Vietnam by claiming that same service for yourself. You satisfactorily graduated from Marine Corps boot camp – no small feat. You earned the title, Marine! In the annals of history and war fighting, it is a small, exclusive club of those who proudly bear the title, Marine. Was that not enough for you?

Another account of mindless buffoonery, as well as dangerous thinking, was also in the news. One was a high school geometry teacher in Alabama who was teaching his students parallel lines and angles in a rather unorthodox manner. He used a hypothetical example of where the student should stand in assassinating President Obama. What? This man is teaching our children in public school! I don’t care what your political beliefs are – this sort of thinking is downright scary!

Evangelist Dwight L. Moody (February 5, 1837 - December 22, 1899) nailed it when it comes to character. He is reported to have said, “I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I have ever met!” Hmmm. The more I reflect on that statement, the more I understand what Moody was driving at. A man’s character is always going to be challenged by his sin nature. I may know the right thing to do, but the doing of it is my biggest hurdle. This is why we need a Savior. His name is Jesus. He is in the business of changing hearts and setting us on the road of doing what is right.

It has been said that “Character is what you are when no one is looking.” This is true, except that God is watching you all the time.

Do what is right.

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