Building Character

Lately, all of my discussions have led back to this topic. Whether I am engaged in a political discussion about the rights people should have or the direction the administration is taking us, or a discussion about a child being bullied at school- ignored by that administration, it seems it all comes down to character.
Recently, I finished taking a class in hypnotherapy, primarily to fulfill a growing need inside me to help people to like themselves, to be more tolerant of themselves and subsequently of others. As I noted on a recent post on my facebook page, if we were to clear out all the bugs hiding deep within the subconscious levels of our minds, think of how much nicer the world would be. Our mind is like a computer, sponging up whatever ideas and beliefs are fed to us right after we are born (and some say even before we are born)like a software program downloaded into our hard drive.. If we could clear out the damaging bugs in that program and replace them with a new program of fresh, positive thoughts and beliefs, imagine how wonderful that new hard drive would be. And imagine if all the hard drives (our minds) in the world became positive, happy, confident thinking, ultimately ridding people of their insecurities, negative fears (I say negative because some fears are good.. think danger falling off a cliff), anxieties, and all negative thoughts toward others and themselves, imagine how wonderful our world would be. There would no longer be a need to hurt, destroy, kill others ….physically, mentally, or professionally.
In fiction, human life is depicted more fully than any scientific or otherwise theoretical rendering out there. David Corbett says in his book “The Art of Character” that “the importance of character to story lies in this open endedness at the core of our lives. Stories that emphasize ideas or problems- the conundrums of philosophy, the lessons of history, the truths of science, the consolations of religion- invariably hit rough sailing the further they drift from the shore of character. Ideas too often serve as a digression from the messy stuff of life- ourselves, each other. For some they provide a kind of false salvation. But the core reality of life remains: We die. Ideas, no matter how “eternal”, can’t save us. And because we can only honestly stand on one side of death, we can never know for certain how our lives will turn out, which is why we experience our existence most profoundly in the interrogative mode,situated in a world premissed on, as Constantin Stanislavski put it, the magical “What if?” Mr. Corbitt goes on to explain that the craft of characterization in our stories is the writer’s attempt to expore the truth of human nature. As we do this, we see ourselves in our characters.
As we write, we are constantly asking the question “what if?” both as the writer constructing the tale and as the reader who comes along on our journey. Just as the clinical hypnotherapist hopes to change a negative thought or experience to a good one, as a small step toward changing the world, one person at a time, the writer hopes to open her reader’s mind to ask a question that counts- at the very least. And as we ask ourselves those questions, exploring our possibiities, we take one more step toward building character.

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