Maxim Monday - 54 - Test the Character

Ηθος δοκιμαζε

Approximate (phonetic) transliterationEthôs dôkimazê
Typical translationTest the Character

Choosing to live morally, ethically, and piously is difficult. Every internal struggle is a test of character. Are you of strong character with positive convictions, or weak-willed? Can you push yourself forward or hold yourself back when the need for either arises?


Kung Fu Panda - Scroll of the Dragon
Kung Fu Panda - Scroll of the Dragon

In Kung Fu Panda, Po was a bumbling coward, but he was loyal to his friends. When they were in trouble, he looked into himself and decided that he could not let himself quit in them. His character gave him the courage he needed to defeat Tai Lung.


Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Picture Source: Destination 360

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

 - Abraham Lincoln

There are a million different stories where someone gains inner strength through the resolve of his/her character in the face of adversity. However, what if there is no adversity? What if instead of needing strength, a person needs restraint?

Heisenberg/Walter White
Heisenberg/Walter White

A modern version of this is Heisenberg/Walter White of Breaking Bad. Walter used resolve and courage to provide for his family when he was sick. Once all the competition was removed, Walter started showing his true colors.

Walter did not have restraint and gave in to greed, opting for a drug empire rather than providing for his family. By doing this, he has lost the trust of his family, he has become a danger to his friends, and he may lose it all to the authorities. He has masterminded murder plots and manipulated anyone close to him, all because he had a little power and craved more.

It's Your Choice

The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.

 - Thomas Babington Macaulay

Ultimately, everyone has the ability to be a better person. The problem is that it is the more difficult path, and it becomes even more difficult the further you stray from it. Today's Zen Pencils strip summarizes this sentiment perfectly.

Zen Pencils - Two Wolves
Zen Pencils - Two Wolves
Source: Zen Pencils