If a person points to another and states, “He is really a character”, is it different from positing: “He really has character”? Can both statements mean the same, or is the subtle difference there to denote? The former is customarily stated in defining a person as somewhat of an oddball, or perhaps eccentric to a degree that places him outside of the conventional norms of acceptable conduct. The latter, on the other hand, could also mean that – the possession of it modified by the adverb describes one with a plenitude of extraordinary traits. Or, it could connote the more classical meaning: A worthy person of honor, dignity, courage, moral foundation, etc.
That is, in the end, what most of us consider to be the pinnacle and apex of that very noun, isn’t it? Possessing it is that which makes of us; displaying it, what demands respect and attention; and abiding in it despite trials that test to compromise, what we hope and expect of ourselves. Indeed, character is both tested and surfaces especially in those times of tumult and tribulation; it is the mettle challenged at the depth of the soul of being. Yet, in this age of modernity where materialism prevails, power seems to overarch all else, and the traditional reference to one’s “character” no longer means much more than a rumble in one’s stomach as evidence of hunger or impoverishment, it is clear that neither form of the meaning evinces much curiosity.
Materialism is dominant; those in power dominate; and the once-vaunted “indomitable spirit” carried forth as a burden of possessing character no longer has much substantive weight. Where it does reveal and manifest itself, however, is in the very lack thereof. So long as things are going relatively smoothly; while the good fortune lasts; or, perhaps during those times when monotony merely puts one into a slumber of sorts, and actions and deliberations through life’s daily routine are placed on an unthinking mode of automatic pilot, the revelation or concealment of character matters not.
But take that onerous instance – as, when a medical condition begins to impact one’s life, and for Federal and Postal employees, compels one to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; does character count? One’s own and reliance upon another’s; both come to the fore and require an evaluation that will test the mettle of the substantive foundation.
For the Federal or Postal employee who begins to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application – tested to endure the administrative process and the onerous test of the entire bureaucratic procedure. For those coworkers, family members and other encountering Federal or Postal employees, including Supervisors, Managers and Human Resource Personnel – of how they respond and what they do to make the process smooth and seamless. In the end, character comes to the fore, and reveals the content of who we truly are.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire