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Arise! Awake! O Bharata*

When I moved from LA, CA to
Davis, CA as a youth, my entire life changed-mostly for the worse.  My brother and I changed schools and lost all of the little cultural grounding we had.  As a result we decided to get wasted with all of our time.


This naturally lead us to therapy and anti-depressants.  Although when our family decided to medicate and treat us, it was extremely uncommon.  All of our friends thought we were crazy to have to see psychiatrists and take medications. 


We tried to hide this information but it came out.  We were stigmatized and called nuts.  Unfortunately for one of us, it panned out in the long run, but that is another story.  Nonetheless, many important things came out of these sessions. 


One that stays in my memory forever is the recurring discussions of “character.”  My therapist and my mother spent months talking to me about the meaning of character, what it was and what it meant to have it.  Until recently I was not sure that they knew what it was.  Whether they did or not is immaterial, because I got the message. 


“Power is what you do and character is what you are…”

-Richard Reeves



What lead me to this discussion was a song called “Collide,” by the artist Howie Day.  The song comes from a popular “emo,” for emotional, genre, it naturally has some impact.  A lyric from its versus jumped at me, “Even the best fall down sometimes.”  My knowledge of character came from my beatings, not from discussions. 


“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

-Hellen Keller



A measure of a human being is not whether he or she falls down.  But whether the person gets up.  And as important, how much taller he or she rises each time.  For all of my mistakes in life, each time I have arisen taller.  Sometimes a millimeter, other times a mile. 


I leave you with a final quote from


“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.:

“I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside me.”


-Abraham Lincoln





*Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (2007) “Arise O Bharata, Uttishtha Bharata.  Retrieved May 10, 2007, from http://www.chyk.net/indian_culture/Bharateeya.asp



Day, Howie. (2006) “Collide.”  MTV Videos. Retrieved May 9, 2007, from http://www.mtv.com/overdrive/?artist=1229085&vid=39703



Public Broadcasting Service (2006) “Character Above All.” Retrieved May 9, 2007, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/character/quotes/

By | 2007-05-10T06:32:23+00:00 May 10th, 2007|Perspectives, Philosophy|0 Comments

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