Doug shines a light on the 21st century tendancy to put a premium on style, not substance.

Doug Giles
Doug Giles

"It's only wrong if you get caught." Michael Moore
Don't know if I can definitively tell you where character has landed . but it's no secret that it took the overnight red-eye flight out of here sometime in the early 60's.

You know, until recently, character and substance served as the funky bottom line bass note to our Western culture's earth blessing groove.

From Plato to the Apostle Paul to the original American architects and builders, character was viewed as a non-negotiable component of liberty and justice for all. Unfortunately, what was an essential ingredient in our national blessing is now more absent from our postmodern milieu than Jessica Simpson during an Oxford Lit discussion concerning Shelley's symbolism in Frankenstein.

Character used to be the staple of great nations, leaders and people. To lead, a few hundred years ago, you had to bring to the table faith, character and virtue. Nowadays, all you need is a killer haircut, good taste in pop music, the right number of syllables in your last name and an off-the-chain marketing agent.

Another reason character has gone to the gallows in our current culture is that the majority of those who bring up character issues usually only vilify the obviously profane -and do it in a pompous, self-serving manner. They don't bring up the issues of character for character's sake, but for their own personal gain. You've seen it . some Boss Hogg on TV . some modern day Pharisee who's got his own mistresses and vices that contradict his personal (or his party's) scream for virtue.

Hey, Captain Obvious . we know adultery is wrong. But you know what? So is gluttony, and so is being a hypocrite. So, you drop 300 pounds, get some grace about you-and then we'll talk contrition. Okey Dokey? Well, alrighty then. The cry for character from contradicting caricatures actually ends up with people being more sympathetic with the flaws of leaders and people in general... it emboldens them to actually revel in their contemptible qualities.

Also, who cares about character anyway? The 21st century has put a premium on style, not substance. Within our shallow and slushy society, charisma is whuppin' character like a Texas redneck would whup a sarcastic and tubby French tourist.

It used to be that you actually had to do something to become noted. You had to win a war, cure a disease, slay a dragon, or right a wrong. Nowadays, all you have to do to get out of the ignored muck of humanity is get silicone implants and do jumping jacks in a mini skirt. Or, get silicone implants and temporarily relocate to a deserted island with other morons and try to survive.

My ClashPoint is this: if we're going to see our nation pull out of the external debacles we're currently cooking in-and stay out-we're going to have to go to work on ourselves internally. We've got to re-inject a mega dose of faith, character and virtue back into the personal and national mix. That is, if we want to continue to enjoy a free and just society.

Let's put a moratorium on the banal and the inconsequential. Let's duct tape the charismatic who's void of character. Let's blow off how tight a person's abs are and appreciate how fit their mind and spirit are. Let's get to the place where "We, the people" don't feel the least bit compelled to acknowledge anyone who isn't internally worth noting.  CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.