The Question of Character

By Mark Anthony Rossi

My son asked yesterday, “Dad why do you need courage to do the right thing?” I had to think for a moment because I often have to translate ideas into a format a ten-year-old can understand without my translation becoming lost in the hodge podge of what passes today for morality.

 I simply told him the right thing is usually not done because when people come together they often feel insulated from making decent decisions. The right thing is usually not the hip thing or the group thing and anyone who pursues it is not a team player, is an outcast, is an enemy, etc. You need courage to do the right thing because you will be doing it alone often with many opposed.

 After a few more questions we focused on what I believe is the very foundation that permits people to fight to make the world right: Character. The definition of character being the personal conviction to carry out the principles of integrity and fair conduct regardless of popularity. This is why so many fail to fight for right because they lack conviction which is the core element of character.

 The question of character and its apparent absence in large swaths of present day youth has a direct connection with a victimization culture that rationalizes ethnic and financial background condoning license to forgo honorable conduct. However, it is nearly impossible to achieve a fair practicing world if large portions willfully operate in the opposite direction.

 Character is not like software that can be discarded as an out of sync machine from a distant past. It needs to be taught again in homes and schools as a building block for the maintenance of a free and fair society. We have lost ourselves in technology and now believe intelligence is more important than a clear set of principles. We have buried ourselves in religion by forgiving poor conduct but not turning away from unhealthy thinking. And we have become blinded by politics that frequently trades the precious present for an intangible sometimes unattainable future.

 But a lie is a lie is a lie no matter where or how it is uttered and we should confront it, reject it and firmly pronounce tomorrow better only after we successfully correct today. The mandate of character demands dealing with today fully and completely. I suspect the perils of overreach lead us down a desperate path of false choice and good intentions: neither guilty of filling the belly of a hungry child. What is character but the stillness of decent purpose in the midst of troubling times.

About the Author: Mark Antony Rossi is a poet, playwright and author of the bioethics volume “Dark Tech” now available from Amazon. His most recent plays have been produced in Liverpool and New York.


  1. The mission is to create a free and fair society that is part of the right world, and hence ensure that fear of unpopularity doesn’t prevent you from following a path characterized by principles of integrity that is more important than intelligence we brag about.

    Character is but a poised and decent initiative in action, clearing a troubled scenario of its remnants!

  2. Thupakula ramamurthi

    It is aptly said that character is not a software to be dispensed at our convenience. A lie is a lie whether we like it or not.schools and colleges have to chistle the perfection from younger generation. Be and make is our guiding light.

  3. Thank you for the fitting insight.

  4. there seems to be something wrong with this site . I posted a comment it said’ awaiting moderation’, now it’s disappeared
    so just a line… i learned as a child
    ‘ character is a diamond that scratches every stone’
    trust this will find its place after moderation