Character: Pros and Cons

1. Character Traits Matter Can help us focus on the character traits that make one a good person; qualities to strive for. Your friend visits you after a recent breakup or injury. You are so happy to see them. You ask why and they say: “You are my friend and I really care about you” (e.g. feelings of compassion). Different than: “I felt it was my duty since I follow the rule/code that I should visit those suffering…” or “I calculated the greatest good I could do today and this is it”.
2. Relationships Allows us to take personal relationships and situational nuances into account. Three people ask for your help (e.g. on a fundraiser, or if they are drowning). One is your best friend or family member, the other two are strangers. A character approach allows you to weigh your personal relationships and aspects of the situation. Do you not have more responsibility to a best friend or family member (e.g. your own child)?
1. Which Traits? No guidance for which character traits we should pursue. Some say we should always be courageous, but is courage always an ideal character trait? Could some argue that the 9/11 terrorists showed courage by risking their lives for what they believed in? Courage for what?
2. What Action? No guidance for what to do or how to act, including times when important character traits conflict. Honesty vs Compassion. Your friend gets an expensive haircut for a job interview or a date and seems to really like it. You think it’s terrible.They ask you what you think. Should you be honest and share your true feelings or be compassionate and help them feel good and confident? Aren’t both honesty and compassion important?