What Charles Dickens Can Teach us About Character
“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness … It was the spring of hope. It was the winter of despair.”
Charles Dickens understood the complexities of life and the character that surfaces during times of adversity as described in his classic, “A Tale of Two Cities.” Great stress reveals the best and the worst of our humanity; it exposes our innate fears and challenges the resilience of our hope.
The virus is bringing out the worst in us. Our most vulnerable populations are suddenly facing increased scamming attempts. Necessary food and home staples are in short supply for many due to excessive indulgence by a few. Political arguments and misunderstandings take on new fervor as controversial policy decisions pour forth. Our patience for even our loved ones in close proximity is waning.
And yet, the virus is also bringing out the best in us. Neighbors are finding new ways to be present to one another, exchanging physically distant hellos during family walks — realizing that a smile to a stranger does not spread germs. Children are making cards to send to the elderly who are unable to see loved ones. Volunteers are dropping off meals to children in need during school building closures. Parents are finding new appreciation for teachers and school administrators who are working hard to teach our young ones virtually. Our medical staff continues to selflessly serve on the front lines of this crisis.
If there’s one thing that this challenging time can teach us – as leaders, as neighbors, as community members – it’s the need for good character.
Each moment gives us an opportunity to act with character or not. Being a person of character is more important now than ever.
For the sake of our kids, Youth Frontiers’ purpose is to inspire character and to create a better community. Each week we will send a short reflection and encouragement to challenge each of us to live out our values. My hope is that this is a small way we can help in this time – the best of times, the worst of times.
Today’s challenge: Think of someone who is anxious about the days ahead. Call, text or send a note of hope.
How we respond during this time will define us as individuals, a community, and a nation.
Let us choose to be people of character.
Founder & CEO