Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Character is Destiny

John McCain's new book of "Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember" is beautifully reviewed by the always-reliable EJ Dionne in last Sunday's Washington Post Book World.

I loves me my Book World. I don't have time to research all the new books on the shelves, so Book World offers a (as the British say) "fragrant nosegay" of what's out there and what might be interesting. I look forward to Book World on a Sunday as much as I look forward to the Outlook (op-ed) section and the Sunday Source (location of the divine Carolyn Hax's advice column).

Back to Senator McCain. This book sounds like a great purchase for children and adults alike. What I love most about John McCain is that he doesn't (like some other notable Republicans) pretend to possess all of the qualities for which he's honoring the 34 people in the book, among them George Washington, Winston Churchill, Oseola McCarty (the woman who gave her $150K life savings as a washerwoman to the University of Mississippi), MLK Jr. and Victor Frankl. I like that because it makes it seem like less of a 1950's classroom textbook-style, multi-personed hagiography and more of a small window into the man that is John McCain.

EJ Dionne summarized it this way:

"In summarizing for his readers the lessons they might take from these tales 'for the important choices in your own life,' McCain offers this view of the human condition: 'We are born with one nature. We want what we want, and want it now. But as we grow, we develop our second nature, our character. These stories are about that second nature." He also said, "The most important thing I have learned...is to WANT what they had, integrity, and to feel the sting of my conscience when I have risked it for some selfish reason."

Beautifully stated definitions of character and integrity; qualities sadly missing in many adults, never mind our kids.


redsoxnationbaby said...

I could list all of the so-called "grown-ups" who lack that second nature. It's what is supposed to separate us from the animals. Our ability to make choices about what we want now and what is a good and right thing to do regardless of what we might want right now be it emotional sexual social or whatever.
You know who you are.

E said...

So can we start manufacturing bracelets that say "WWJMcCD?"

Now THAT oughta set him up nicely for 2008!

ps--Whoa, RSNB! No outing of First Naturers on The Haggis, please!