Character over reputation.
“Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!”
Nathaniel Hawthorne, at the end of The Scarlet Letter, reminds his readers to acknowledge their shortcomings, flaws and mistakes, and to avoid “the poor minister’s miserable experience.”
I guess I know my biggest flaw is my (relative) lack of moral courage. Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the ability of any person to be able to distinguish between right and wrong; to stay firm on his convictions; face the criticism of society on convictions, which he knows to be right; enables to defy the power of public opinion; enables to defy the foolish contempt of our societies.”
I can stand up for myself just fine. But when it come to other people being bullied, I kind of just move away and pretend nothing happened. And I know I’m not the only one. It’s this stigma surrounding the idea of standing up for others, that somehow you will end up being humiliated, being laughed at by society, being involved in something you’d rather not be. We walk away from the scene with this at-least-it-wasn’t-me feeling. Not doing anything just seems easier.
I know I shouldn’t, though. I know I should be standing up for them, helping them, defending them, because I would for myself. But I just can’t always bring myself to do it, because I’m afraid I’ll end up in that situation, and ruin my reputation.
But then again, what reputation do I have when I walk away from those in need? One for not helping others, for being egocentric. For being a coward and a bully, at the same time.
Not a bully that hurled fists and harsh words, but a silent bully. A silent bully that causes just as much harm, if not more.
In the end, you just have to recognize your flaws and make an effort to change. And as much as change is a difficult concept, I’m working on it as best as I can. On my mirror, I made myself a quote wall to remind myself of my place in this word, and on it is a quote that does a wonderful job of just that. I’d like for you to consider it, too.
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”