"Son, there is no question but what the thing you have done today deserves severe punishment. You might have killed yourself or the horse, but much worse than that, you have injured your own character. A man's character is like his house. If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin. If he tells lies to be able to do the things he shouldn't do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin. A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth."
Quote from: Little Britches - Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody
These words were spoken by Ralph's father, a great man worthy of emulation. Throughout the rest of the book Ralph, aka "Little Britches," thinks about tearing boards off of the house that is his character when he starts to do anything underhanded or sneaky. It just presents such a great mental picture.
When I was looking for a house to buy before moving to Maryland I noticed several houses with cypress trees planted along the road to give the house behind them more privacy. They are tall, pleasant looking, evergreen trees that can grow close to each other. They also grow quickly and do their job of screening the house from the road quite well.
I wish we could see people's characters as easily as we can see a house. Imagine how it would change our willingness to vote a politician into office if we could see their character in shambles, boards missing everywhere, a complete eyesore. Or how quickly we could decide whether or not to do business with someone who's character was in such a state. Unfortunately too many have their 'character houses' screened by these charming evergreen cypress trees. They are good at putting up a front, and the world suffers because of it.
I think the word "character" is more used these days to describe a role an actor plays on a show and seldom used to denote ones moral qualities and intrinsic value. We don't talk enough about building character and how important it is. How a carefully constructed character takes effort, planning, and teamwork amongst friends and family. Then, if done right, can withstand anything the ofttimes harsh environment that is life can throw at us. We end up with a product that is both a strong shelter and a beautiful home that we can be proud to display to anybody along the way.
After reading this quote, both my wife and I have tried to instill this image in the minds of our children. I just hope it sticks with them as it did with Ralph Moody.