| Character: What human
beings have made of themselves, given
their circumstances, their needs, their talents, their shortcomings,
their beliefs and their illusions.
There definitely is a personal
character that human individuals have and retain throughout their
lives, and it seems to be mostly based emotionally on one's basic
motives and temperament, and intellectually one one's general
intelligence and special talents and shortcomings.
All of these seem as definite and
recognizable as a person's face, and as
much related as one's face is to what is innate:
Apart from great trauma and serious
accident, our main outlines and forms are born with us, and are what we
try to make the best of in the circumstances and with events of life as
we find and meet them.
The public character of the
vast majority of men and women - the face they put on for others, as 'person' comes from 'mask' - is mostly
intentional falsification: It is a balancing act made up of conformism, hypocrisy,
illusion and fear, in which they pretend that they are and
feel and believe what they know they are and feel and believe not,
because they believe, with some justification, that pretending they are
other than they really are and feel and think will help or protect
This phoney 'character', the false public face, that most men and most women
have is not one they are born with, but one they acquire between ages
15 and 25, when they try to fit themselves into society, and soon learn that their native
talents and courage are not large, and that duplicity and conformism are rewarded, and sincerity,
individuality and thinking for oneself punished, and that the
prevailing standards in society, from elementary politeness to politics and religion,
are in most men and women more based on pretense, acting as if,
make-belief, party-feelings and wishful
thinking rather than on sincerity, skepticism, independent
individual thought or reason.