In the 1980’s New York City had many abandoned buildings, many of them next to the commuter rail line coming from the suburbs. Someone came up with the idea to put decals of curtains and blinds on the windows to seem as if they were occupied. Above you can see the semi-success of this idea. Of course these decals didn’t change anything, they just put a more attractive face on things.
When I say someone is of good character, I don’t mean that they appear attractive on the surface. If someone just looks, but isn’t, reliable I might call her a “character,” but I wouldn’t mean that they had character. Character itself seems to be rather scarce in many circles right now. Many people are concerned with their facade and not their inner person. “Selfies” represent the facade but give us no clue about the person’s character.
When I think of someone with character I imagine that they behave basically the same whether or not someone is looking on. I expect that if one of those snooping television program spied on the person, it would find no real surprises. Steadiness seems to mark someone with character. Of course, steadiness doesn’t fill cable news or grocery store tabloids. So in general we are exposed endlessly to people pretending to be someone they aren’t. I think that the inundation of news about duplicity makes us all a little jaded. It’s easy to think that no one is really who they appear to be. But cynicism doesn’t serve us well. I hope that I can continue to see and acknowledge character in people I know and observe. Decals may cover abandoned buildings, but they don’t bring about actual renewal.