Character, Not Circumstance


“I was wanting, have been found wanting and am left wanting.”

– Jim Glines

When circumstances come together and force you to decision, the choices you make have a tremendous urgency.  This immediacy and its attendant emotion are created not by the circumstance but by how one deals with the circumstance.  I’d like to think that we have a range of possibility when it comes to our response and, according to my therapist, we do have several methods of dealing with difficult circumstance: ignore it and live with the problems, accept the circumstances and move forward, or accept where you are and then change it.

The last of the three is the hardest to do.  It’s easy to live with blinders on and just plod through it all.  It’s easy to expend no energy on the problem and accept the pain of your lot and let it beat you into the ground.  But changing your circumstances?  Harder than you think.

“Character, not circumstances, makes the man.”

– Booker T. Washington

I know people who have said on many occasions that if you want things to be better you must have faith.  That’s a nice sentiment but it doesn’t work in practice very well.  I’ve had plenty of faith: faith in my abilities, faith in the intelligence of others, faith that a future will be better than a past.  But I tell you, faith is wish-making.


All of the ‘faith’ I had has been well-tested and so far, nada.  It’s fairly obvious that faith isn’t quite enough.  Perhaps there is some additional element to add to faith in order to bring about the alchemy of change.

“Faith is not something to grasp, it is something to grow into.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Maybe it is love.  Now, I happen to know that love, and very powerful love, has been given and expressed to me many a time and that without it my circumstances would have been dire, indeed.  But that love was generated by others, not myself.


Self-love is a thing most difficult to practice.  Self-love is hard to understand and even more trying to achieve.  But love from others, others whose faith is firmly rooted, those who have no problem extending that love to me — that love is the only fuel to my life in these times.  It’s kindling needed to start the fire of self-love within me.  It’s a precious gift.  But it doesn’t necessarily change the circumstances, the root of my problems; still, it keeps me alive in order to make critical decisions.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”

– Oscar Wilde

Charity.  A loaded word if ever there was one.  You see, charity is supposed to be given without reward.  And the definition of charity is different according to each of us; we all understand it in our own way.  Some consider charity the ‘enabler’ of sloth and lewdness.

Charity collection boxes

Some see it as an integral part of being human, this giving to others, and do so without expectation or complaint.  And some perform the act out of the need for a feeling of superiority or out of their own guilt.

“In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.”

– Anne Baxter

Faith, Love, Charity.  Powerful human values more often than not misconstrued.

Some believe that faith obscures reality and moves us toward dependence.  Others believe that love builds us up only if we understand how to love ourselves, too.  Many believe that charity is sometimes used as a carrot at the end of a stick.

Faith is never enough.  Love is never enough.  Charity is never enough.  But when the three are melded into a single, powerful human emotion it becomes the most energetic force that we humans can muster, for good or for bad.  Faith can be the ‘bright idea’, the visualization of a future.  Love can be a catalyst, the base from which we build faith.  Charity can move us toward higher purpose, toward new heights of civilization.  But nothing, nothing gets done without belief.

It is belief that is the synergy of the three.  It is belief, good or bad, right or wrong, that moves human history forward, a history both individual and collective; it is belief that brings us into a new age, into a new sense of being.

And, sad to say, the change in true belief is the hardest change to achieve.  Belief allows you to change your circumstance because it changes your outlook on your circumstances, not the circumstances themselves.  Facts, empirical, true facts, are the platform from which we launch ourselves in order to make informed change, change that has the best chance of success, for without a basis in fact there can be no force or truth to our belief.

Love, however, doesn’t need facts, only love itself.  Love is seemingly without explanation.

And true charity isn’t material: rather, charity is the exchange of love.

So it seems I might try to have a little faith.  Just a little, just enough to make a wish.  That’s human enough.


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