To the Greeks, it was first “a stamping tool”.
Then, “to inscribe or engrave”. Used mostly in reference to how a coin was marked to distinguish its value from another.
Being that “it” alone is the coin of the realm – makes perfect sense.
Over time, as its derivatives, usage and meaning evolved, “it” came to define a set of distinguishing features and traits.
In Middle English, the “imprint on the soul.”
And today, simply, “character”.
That intangible, tangible.
The sole entity, that once revealed, is immediately and irrevocably recognizable as either good – or – bad.
And that revelation begs the question.
If character is immediately recognizable and ultimately irrevocable from without – then how is it possible that we would ever choose to undermine it – from within?
A singular choice that speaks volumes:
That abiding by our better selves is an endeavor too unyielding and demanding a taskmaster.
That aspiration can never match expectation.
And intention can never become reality.
That the act of distinguishing ourselves with our best is just too deliberate, painstaking and costly an undertaking.
So let’s be honest.
There will be circumstances that come along.
Ones featuring gratification of the instantaneous variety.
Singing a siren song that can prove just too powerful to ignore.
Instants determined to cajole us to first find, and then take, “the easy way out”.
In moments that present themselves as “no one is looking”.
Or better yet, “no one is around.”
So – “no one will ever know.”
Times that when allowed, will define us. Instead of us defining them.
Leading us to a death spiral of self-defeating efforts, reinforced by an internal calculus solely designed to excuse, rationalize and absolve.
A personal math developed to equate undermining our character with acceptable, collateral, damage.
An entirely self-inflicted circumstance that begs yet other questions:
What does this say about how we engrave ourselves?
And the value we have placed on the coin of our realm?
Let alone its imprint on our soul?