Monthly Archives: October 2008

It’s a Crisis of Character, not of Financial Markets

By Reggie Jones

Booker T. is said to have defined character thus: “Character is Power.”

Character is “how you behave when no one’s watching.” The present financial crisis is a wake up call to recognize the importance of character. The so-called leaders of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, along with their enabler politicians, are largely responsible for actions that brought us to the financial brink. Yet the media blames it on a lack of oversight and under-regulation, claiming Republicans weren’t watching the store.

But the real question is, “Why the need for oversight?” Don’t responsible people know the difference between right and wrong?

Yet, in today’s society, highly paid people, from athletes to politicians even US Presidents have engaged in illegal and immoral activities and do not hesitate to lie when caught. Oversight? Meaningless when fans and political parties stand behind them.

Finding celebrities without character all too easy, making it all the more difficult for young people to withstand pop culture pressure and develop proper character. Yet the bitter fruit of the lack of good moral character among so many is all too apparent. Skyrocketing out-of-wedlock birth rates among young and younger teens. Rising rates of sexually transmitted disease (STD). families break down.

But speak out against these trends and you are labeled as judgmental. Success is less and less defined as living a constructive, productive life, but more and more by having more ‘bling’ than the next guy.

Booker T. Washington never wallowed in self pity for lack of ‘bling,’ nor for being born a slave. Rather, he used his struggle as motivation to improve himself. He refused to hate white people, choosing to seek common ground through forgiveness. He understood and applied the wisdom of the Judeo-Christian concept of forgiveness.

He showed that character – above all – was essential to attaining success. He also defined character as having a strong faith in God, keeping your word, taking responsibility for your actions, serving your fellow man, exercising thrift in financial affairs, and following the golden rule.

If more people on Wall Street and at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue adhered to Booker T.’s ideal and model of character, our country would not be having to deal with our present moral and financial crisis.