Character: What human beings
have made of themselves, given their circumstances, their needs, their
talents, their shortcomings, their beliefs and their
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
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 them.
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
thinking rather than on sincerity, skepticism, independent individual
thought or reason.