MIDWAY : Deluded selves

What is a true test of character? If you ask me, it’s the ability to adapt to changing external environment without sacrificing one’s principles. That is the crucial difference between a strong-willed person who is ready to hold his ground come what may and a weakling who does not dither from abandoning his beliefs should that be expedient.

One of my school mates was ready to convert to Christianity if his new faith would help him land a US visa! Some people are just like that. They have no moral qualms about adopting whatever means to achieve their goals. It indeed becomes a matter of farce if these people start preaching about having a high moral character.

These are the kinds of people who wax eloquent about their good grades while they know deep down that it is not their hard work, but shameless cheating that got them all those marks. The politicians extolling the virtues of living a good life are themselves knee-deep in corruption. It is as if they have one face in reality but a different one to put before the world.

These days, character has come to be defined so loosely that virtually any seemingly goody-goody activity can easily pass for it. A person applying for a US visa might present before the interviewer an impeccable character and why he will return “to serve his country” on the completion of his studies. But once he is on his flight, all masks are quickly cast aside. Two years down the line, he might be an unrecognisable person to the ones who knew him back in his homeland. Forget about returning home to “serve” his country, he does not even want to hear the name of the country he tried so hard to escape. This is what actually happened with a “friend” of mine.

Ah, friend! Such a nice word. But can a person who cannot even be faithful to himself be my friend? If yes, doesn’t friendship itself become another cheap word that is randomly tossed about?

Character has become such a fluid concept that many have no idea what it actually means. The self-respect that goes with one’s firmly held belief has given way to living as per one’s convenience. No wonder so many of us feel lost when self-deception is the basis of our existence.